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Historical Studies and Addresses 
Bernadotte E. Schmitt 

Cleveland 1960 Ohio 

Copyright 1960 by Western Reserve University 

All Rights Reserved. 

Library of Congress Catalogue Card No. 60-15088- 


The studies and addresses here presented are part of the fruit of 
fifty years of diligent and perceptive exploration in the field of 
history. Dr. Schmitt's distinguished career, crowned this year with 
the presidency of the American Historical Association, has been 
one of extraordinary variety. A Rhodes Scholar in his youth, his 
academic career began at the University of Wisconsin; he attained 
professorship at Western Reserve University; taught then at the Uni- 
versity of Chicago, where he is Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service 
Professor Emeritus of Modern History. Dr. Schmitt was for seven- 
teen years editor of the Journal of Modern History, and for seven more 
a special assistant in the Department of State. His book, The Coming 
of the War 1914, won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1931, and his 
other books and writings are too numerous to list here. 

Of these writings, certain ones have been selected for publication 
in this form because it is felt that their permanent value deserves a 
wider audience than that to which they were originally offered. One, 
at least, was privately circulated under seal of secrecy because of 
references to living persons. These are now dead, and the reasons for 
secrecy no longer obtain. Hence a record of permanent value is, 
for practical purposes, made available for the first time. 

The Press of Western Reserve University presents here some of the 
mature reflections and representative studies of one of America's most 
distinguished historians. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 

Fifty Years of Exploring History 

This paper was first delivered to the Graduate History Club of the 
University of Chicago as a "Valedictory" when I retired from my 
professorship in 1946. Since then I have added to it, and the present 
title refers to the time elapsed since I received my Ph.D. 

1 became a historian by accident. My father was a professor of 
mathematics in the University of Tennessee, and he made me take 
all his courses, including calculus and differential equations. I memo- 
rised the necessary formulae and worked the problems, but I was 
bored by them. What I really liked was chemistry, but in quantitative 
analysis and mineralogy I found that I lacked manual dexterity, 
and often I had to juggle the figures to obtain the results which the 
professor demanded. Obviously, I was not cut out to be a professional 
chemist. Then, in April 1905, I was elected a Rhodes Scholar from 
Tennessee, and I had to decide upon a course of study in the Uni- 
versity of Oxford. I had had my fill of Latin and Greek, for which 
Oxford was famous; I did not wish to be a lawyer. As I had not 
studied history in college, I decided to give it a try in Oxford. 

So, in October 1905, I entered upon what was then called the 
Preliminary Examination in Jurisprudence, a one-term course con- 
sisting of English history, two books of Gaius' Institutes of Roman 
law, and a dash of logic. At the end of two months' very hard work, 
I passed the examination, and in January 1906 I registered in the 
Honour School of Modern History, which meant that in June 1908 
I would be taking an examination in 11 papers— English history, 
political, constitutional, religious, economic; a period of European 
history (1414-1598 was my choice) , a special subject studied from 
original sources (mine was the Italian wars from 1494 to 1516) , 
political science (chiefly Aristotle and Hobbes) , and political economy 
(largely John Stuart Mill) . These examinations were more formidable 
than those which I took later in obtaining a Ph.D. 

2 The Fashion and Future of History 

Although I went to a good many lectures, my instruction depended 
chiefly on a weekly meeting with my tutor, in my case the Rev. 
Arthur Henry Johnson, of All Souls College, the author of several 
standard texts on European history. Each week I read an essay, about 
half an hour in length, on an assigned subject. "The Jonner" then 
discussed my effort, usually taking the opposite side in the argument., 
and criticized my style. The subject of my first essay was "Was Magna 
Charta a Feudal Document?" In all, I wrote about fifty essays. Among 
the subjects were "Was the Foreign Policy of Queen Elizabeth 
Vacillating?", "Did the Stamp Act Cause the Loss of America?", 
"Explain Aristotle's Theory of Slavery". If I have any gift of historical 
exposition, it results from the extraordinary training I received at 
Oxford. I was lucky enough to gain a First Class, for which my college 
— Mer ton— awarded me a prize of £10, with which you could buy a 
lot of books in 1908. 

From Oxford I went to the University of Wisconsin, where I had 
obtained a fellowship, for two years' graduate work. The department 
of history at Wisconsin was one of the best in the United States, 
including such men as Frederick Jackson Turner, Dana Carleton 
Munro, Alfred L. P. Dennis, Carl Russell Fish, and Victor Coffin. 
In Madison I was introduced to loose-leaf notebooks, a vast improve- 
ment over the bound books used at Oxford, and to the ubiquitous 
3x5 card. These cards are no doubt useful for bibliographical pur- 
poses, but I am convinced that they are the bane of good historical 
writing, for in writing term papers and theses, students are apt 
to copy one card after another, without regard to literary style. The 
best writing I have ever done was, I think, a little book, Triple 
Alliance and Triple Entente, which I produced entirely from memory. 
To be sure, after the first draft was finished, I verified some facts, 
quotations and dates, but it was much more fun writing without being 
dependent on the little white cards, and I always warned my graduate 
students against them. 

Turner was the principal star in the firmament. He would come to 
class with a great stack of notes on half-size sheets. Knowing his 
subject from A to Z, he spoke spontaneously, but from time to time 
he would read a quotation from the sources, picking up the proper 
sheet of paper without hesitation. Munro, whose learning was 
prodigious, had a conversational style of lecturing; often he seemed 
to be making an after-dinner speech. Dennis was the scholar par 

Fifty Years of Exploring History 3 

excellence. He was fully equipped with 3x5 cards, gave you a full 
bibliography, and delivered carefully worked out lectures, in which 
he repeated all important points three times in three different ways. 
Coffin and my father had taught in a preparatory school in Virginia 
when I was three years old. When I arrived at the University of Wis- 
consin twenty years later, he took a personal interest in me and 
was very helpful. He came to class without books or notes, sometimes 
in a golf suit or tennis clothes, and offered the most finished lectures 
in elegant English. This made a profound impression on me, and 
I hoped that some day I might achieve the same mastery. Ultimately, 
at Chicago, I was able to dispense with notes. 

I should also mention George Clark Sellery, who once asked me to 
lecture for him; he became dean of the graduate school and is still 
going strong at 88, the sole survivor of the department of my day. 

In course of time I wrote my thesis, doing this without any direc- 
tion. Dennis, who sponsored it, went abroad for a year, and no one 
else in the department was interested in the subject. As I finished 
chapters, I took them to Coffin, but he never criticized them. The 
night before the final examination, he invited me to come out to his 
house. He asked me a number of questions— and more or less repeated 
them the next day at the examination. Nevertheless I nearly failed 
that examination. My minor was political science under Paul S. 
Reinsch, later United States minister to China. One day in the 
spring of 1910 two squirrels playing in the treetops of a Madison 
street evidently had a fight, for one came tumbling down. It landed 
on the head of a horse, which dashed away and ran into a buggy in 
which Reinsch was about to take a drive. Reinsch was severely injured 
and was ill for months. So I was examined in political science by 
a summer visitor whom I did not know, and I did very badly; I al- 
ways suspected that I failed that part of the examination but was 
passed by the grace of the department. Some years later, I was 
teaching one summer in Madison, and I was called upon to examine 
some one whom I had never seen before. I recalled my experience to 
my colleagues, some of whom had been present at my examination; 
needless to say, the young man passed. While I was very happy to 
receive my Ph.D., I was aware that my thesis needed some revision 
before publication; in my early years of teaching, there was no 
time to revise it, and in the end, I was content when the University 
of Wisconsin published an abstract of it. 

4 The Fashion and Future of History 

From Wisconsin I went, in 1910, to Cleveland as an instructor in 
history at Adelbert College, the men's college of Western Reserve 
University. I was sorry to go, for I felt "demoted" from a great 
university to a small college, where I taught freshman history from 
the fall of the Roman Empire to the end of the nineteenth century. 
Actually, this was the best thing that could have happened to me, 
for I was treated as an equal by my seniors (Henry E. Bourne and 
Elbert J. Benton) in the department and given a free hand to 
conduct my courses as I saw fit. My advanced course began with the 
Congress of Vienna and came down to date. In 1910 only one text 
book covered the ground, C. D. Hazen's Europe Since 1815, and 
even it was pretty sketchy after 1905. So it was necessary to read 
European newspapers and magazines to keep the course up to date. 
This was an important step in my career. 

Equally important was the fact that I had spent the summer of 
1906 in Germany, where I enjoyed myself and where living was 
more comfortable than in Britain or France. But I was disagreeably 
impressed by the omnipresence of the army and the glorification of 
the navy, and by the atmosphere of militarism, especially after I 
was pushed off the sidewalk in Berlin by a strutting officer. In May 
1911 I wrote a letter to the Nation saying that Germany was the 
greatest obstacle to the maintenance of peace, and in January 1914 
1 delivered a lecture at Western Reserve on "Germany in the Reign 
of William II", in which I expressed the fear that Germany was 
preparing to precipitate a European war. I was widely denounced at 
the time (there was a large German population in Cleveland) , 
but six months later I was hailed as a prophet! 

After this I went on to write my first book, England and Germany, 
a study of the relations between the two countries from 1740 to 1914, 
published in 1916. It was kindly reviewed by Sidney Fay in the 
American Historical Review, and this led to a lasting friendship 
which has in no way been disturbed by the circumstance that we 
put forth conflicting views of the responsibility for the war of 1914. 
Fay's Origins of the World War, published in 1928, took a lenient 
view of Germany's responsibility, whereas my book The Coming of 
the War 1914 (1930) laid the chief burden on Germany. This has al- 
ways troubled me. We had both taken advanced degrees at eminent 
universities, and I suppose that the technical instruction given at 
Harvard and Wisconsin was much the same. We used the same docu- 

Fifty Years of Exploring History 5 

ments and read the same biographies and memoirs in preparing 
our respective books— and came up with quite different interpreta- 
tions. It is sometimes asserted that we are both prejudiced because 
Fay studied in Germany and I in England, but surely there is 
more involved than that. Is there something wrong with our methods 
of historical study and training when two scholars draw such con- 
flicting conclusions from the same evidence? 

The reviews of The Coming of the War, were, on the whole, un- 
favorable, chiefly because the book was highly critical of Germany. 
By 1930 Germany had in no small degree recovered (in the United 
States, at least) from the obloquy generated during the war years, 
and Fay's book had met with wide acceptance. Because mine did 
not follow Fay, it was not taken seriously; when it was awarded the 
Pulitzer Prize for History in 1931, there was a loud outcry in some 
circles. Certainly the criticism of my book was based partly on 
emotion. After the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, 
many persons told me that originally they had thought that I was 
wrong, but that after Germany had a second time unleashed war, 
they realized that I had been right! 

During the second German war there was published in Italy 
a book on The Origins of the War of 1914 by Luigi Albertini, 
one-time owner and editor of the Corriere delta Sera, who had been 
dispossessed by Mussolini. Albertini was able to use evidence not yet 
published when I worte; while not accepting my views in toto, he 
definitely put the chief responsibility for the war of 1914 on Ger- 
many. When the English translation of his book appeared in the 
1950's, its findings were generally accepted by the reviewers. In other 
words, book reviewers are affected by the "climate of opinion." In 
1930 that climate was favorable to Germany; after 1945 it was not. 
While attending the Eleventh International Congress of Historical 
Studies at Stockholm in August 1960, I was told by two German 
scholars, youngish men in their late twenties or early thirties, that 
they agreed with my views, although it was unpopular to say so in 

Since 1914 I have devoted most of my time and energy to reading 
books and lesser writings on foreign politics and diplomatic history. 
In 1914, as was to have been expected, the writers of every country 
(with occasional exceptions) exonerated their own country of respon- 
sibility for the war and blamed the other side. Bu* since then 

6 The Fashion and Future of History 

thousands of documents from many archives have been released 
and hundreds of personal memoirs have been published, and this 
new evidence has furnished material for a large number of books 
written by Austrians, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, and Italians 
about the responsibility for the war and its Vorgeschichte. Yet in 
1939 the views expressed were not very different from those put 
forward in 1914. Thus the question that troubles me about Sidney 
Fay and myself is not confined to ourselves but embraces the his- 
torians of all western Europe. 

Nor is this divergence of opinion exclusively a matter of national 
prejudice. I have read some books on diplomatic history written by 
Communists, and the story they tell is so different from that offered 
by the bourgeois historians of capitalist Europe and America as to 
be scarcely recognizable by the latter. I note that a German Com- 
munist is as rabid as a Russian one. In view of all this, I have no 
doubt that it will be impossible in any foreseeable time for any his- 
torians to prepare a diplomatic history from 1871 onwards which will 
be acceptable to the peoples of western Europe and of the United 
States, let alone to those of the Soviet Union. 

The "war guilt" controversy of the First World War was over 
the question of responsibility for the catastrophe. There was no 
question of responsibility for the second war: Hitler's guilt was 
conceded everywhere outside of the Axis countries. But there has 
been some debate as to President Roosevelt's part in the involvement 
of the United States. Several writers, two of them professional his- 
torians, have charged that Roosevelt deliberately contrived to have 
the Japanese attack us because he knew that Congress would not 
of its own volition declare war on either Japan or Germany. I am 
not a specialist on this problem (although I have read a good deal 
of the evidence) , but I note that this thesis has been generally 
rejected by the historians who reviewed the challenging books. As 
there has been no revival of the charge in recent years, we have 
probably heard the last of it, at least for some time. 

During the past decade, the bitterest controversy developed over 
the Suez Canal crisis of 1956. 1 John Foster Dulles, the late secretary 
of state, had long been under attack, and lately Sir Anthony Eden, the 
British prime minister of the time, has published his side of the 

i Written in April 1960, before the Summit crisis of May. 

Fifty Years of Exploring History 7 

story. Historians will certainly do well to be wary. Not only is 
the evidence not all in, but we are too close to the event to see it 
in perspective. Sir Edward Grey, the British foreign secretary in the 
years before 1914, once remarked that he would be very interested 
to read what history said about his policies. According to him, the for- 
eign office was not guided by clear-cut aims and ideas, but lived 
from day to day and dealt with questions as they arose. So I hope 
that I shall live long enough to see what the historians of, say, 1975, 
conclude about the Dulles-Eden row. 

But, although my own activity has been devoted principally to dip- 
lomatic history, it has not been exclusively so. During the years I 
spent at the University of Chicago (1924-1943) I taught subjects 
other than diplomatic history and I edited the Journal of Modern 
History (1929-1946) —experiences which led me to other pastures. 
Looking back over the fifty-five years which have elapsed since I began 
to study history, my deepest impression is that of the changing 
character of historical study. At Oxford, the approach was over- 
whelmingly political, that is, the emphasis was on government and 
politics, diplomacy and war. John Richard Green's protest against 
"drum-and- trumpet" history expressed in his famous Short History of 
the English People found little echo. It was much the same at 
Wisconsin, although more effort was made to study economic and 
social history. 

In my memory two books stand out as marking a significant change 
in American ideas. The first was James Harvey Robinson's The New 
History, published in 1911, the other Charles A. Beard's Economic 
Interpretation of the Constitution, published in 1913. The old- 
fashioned political history has been going out of favor ever since. 
There was not much left of it at Chicago in my day. About thirty 
years ago the intellectual approach to history began to be popular, 
and books on the history of ideas are being published in increasing 
numbers. And now a former president of the American Historical 
Association tells us that our "next assignment" is to investigate the 
role of psychology and psychiatry in the historical process. If all of 
this is elementary, it serves to warn us that with the coming of the 
age of space, many of our historical values may be called in question. 
This does not worry me. Changing conceptions help to keep history 
vital. Heaven forbid that history should ever become what Voltaire 
once called it, un faible convenu, a tale agreed upon. 

8 The Fashion and Future of History 

Several specialized aspects of history have always appealed to me, 
such as the role of chance. The best illustration I know of is the mur- 
der at Sarajevo in June 1914, which set off the First World War. 
After the first attempt to kill the Archduke Francis Ferdinand had 
failed, the plans for the royal party were somewhat changed, but the 
chauffeur of his car was not told of the new route and at a certain 
corner he began to turn, as originally prescribed. He was forced to 
stop and back up— and at that moment the assassin Princip, standing 
there, seized his chance to shoot. But for this mishap, it is unlikely 
that the Archduke would have been killed and therefore most im- 
probable that war would have broken out in the summer of 1914. 
At Gallipoli, in 1915, the Turks had exhausted their ammunition 
after the great attack of March 18 and were preparing to flee as soon 
as the Allies renewed their attack the next day— which they did not 
do. In our day, we remember that the Japanese were not detected 
approaching Pearl Harbor because the officer responsible for searching 
the skies had gone off duty and had not been replaced. In an earlier 
time, neither Lee nor Meade had planned to fight at Gettysburg, 
but met there by accident. The role of chance, fortuna the Romans 
called it, must not be exaggerated, but is sometimes just as important 
as great forces and the actions of great men. 

Then there is the part played by people's health. Of recent years 
numerous books have appeared dealing with the medical history of 
famous persons. It seems clear that Napoleon was quite unwell on 
the day before Waterloo and on the day of the battle, which he was 
slow in beginning— accounted by the military critics his great blunder 
—because he was physically exhausted in the early morning. Was 
William II geisteskrank (as the Germans say) —which would explain 
many of his foolish and dangerous actions? To what extent was 
Woodrow Wilson's attitude towards the Senate in 1919 brought 
about by physical and mental weariness? Again, this is something not 
to be overworked, but also not to be forgotten. 

Still a third specialized approach is represented by Hans Zinnser's 
Rats, Lice and History, which I found fascinating. 

In fifty years one learns that each generation writes, or rewrites, 
history according to its own taste. In the 1920's, books about Theodore 
Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were heavily partisan because they 
had been strongly controversial presidents, but recent biographies of 

Fifty Years of Exploring History 9 

both men have been unprejudiced and scholarly. In my own exper- 
ience, Bismarck furnishes the best example. The first account of him 
that I read— in 1909— was that in C. A. Fyffe's History of Modern 
Europe published in 1889, which was distinctly critical. Then during 
the reign of William II, its outward glitter seemed to prove the 
soundness of Bismarck's work, and the treatment of the Iron Chan- 
cellor was generally laudatory. But when Germany crashed in 1918, 
inevitably the question was raised whether the political system set 
up by Bismarck was not more to blame for losing the war than 
the poor judgment of the general staff. In the days of the Weimar 
regime, criticism of Bismarck was widespread among historians. Then 
came the Nazis. Their attitude towards Bismarck was one of con- 
tempt because he had not completed the unification of Germany in 
1866 when, according to their view, he had the chance. The Nazis 
set out to rewrite German history from their point of view, and 
one trembles to think what would have been the result had they 
won the war. It is worth noting that they did not succeed in enlisting 
many reputable historians for this job. One amusing incident is 
worth recording. Hermann Oncken wrote a laudatory account of 
Bismarckian and Wilhelmine Germany for the last volume of the 
Cambridge Modern History, which was published in 1910. After 
1918 he made his peace with republican Germany and was translated 
from the University of Heidelberg to Berlin. When the Nazis took 
over, Oncken wrote a biography of Oliver Cromwell which, because 
of its praise of the Protector's dictatorship, was interpreted as an 
effort to curry favor with the new order. But this was too much for 
the Nazis; they called him a professional turncoat and dismissed him. 
Another example of the precarious connection of history with 
politics was provided by Russia. From 1917 to 1932 M. N. Pokrovsky 
was director of historical studies in the Soviet Union and produced 
works according to the best Marxian doctrine. But in 1932 Stalin 
reversed his policy and called for genuine history, not socialist or 
communist propaganda, and Pokrovsky was dismissed. When I 
visited Moscow in 1935, I had several sessions with Communist his- 
torians, including the late Madame Pankratova, who ultimately be- 
came the grand panjandrum of Soviet historiography; they asked me 
to believe that they followed the same rigid methods of historical 
research and writing that prevailed in the West. I was not able to 

10 The Fashion and Future of History 

verify their claims, but what I have seen of their publications in the 
sixth decade of this century dealing with diplomatic history is not 
history at all, but propaganda. 

Still, Soviet propaganda masquerading as history is no worse than 
the jingoistic schoolbooks which used to be so common, both before 
and after the First World War. Between the two wars considerable 
effort was made in several countries to cure this evil, with some 
success, and the effort is still continuing. The incident most familiar 
to me was the meeting of French and German historians in 1936 in 
an attempt to agree upon a statement concerning the origins of the 
war of 1914; while it was not altogether successful, it produced more 
agreement than might have been expected. A similar meeting 
between English and German historians after the second war seemed 
to me less productive. So the problem is still with us. 

Having been concerned all my life with recent history, I ask myself 
what is the duty of the historian in our troubled times? In 1914 it 
was not possible to find an adequate history of Serbia or of Austria- 
Hungary since 1867. In those days historians were chary of writing 
about recent events because it was extremely difficult to obtain accu- 
rate information and there was a genuine fear that anything written 
would savor too much of politics or propaganda. In 1918, when 
peacemaking was about to begin, there was no proper study available 
of the three great peace congresses of the nineteenth century, Vienna, 
Paris, Berlin (Wilson was contemptuous of Vienna and was deter- 
mined that it should not repeat itself) . Nor had the payment by 
France to Germany of the huge indemnity imposed by the treaty of 
Frankfurt been adequately analyzed. In fairness to historians who 
have not written up the latest incidents in a rapidly changing world, 
the danger involved may be well illustrated by two illustrations. 
After his dismissal in 1890 Bismarck revealed the existence of a 
"reinsurance" treaty between Germany and Russia, but gave no 
details. Endless discussion and speculation followed for years. Finally, 
in 1914 Count von Reventlow in his Deutschlands Auswdrtige Politik, 
1888-1914 offered a version which appeared plausible— but which was 
made to look ridiculous in 1924 when Erich Brandenburg, having 
had access to the Foreign Office archives, published the true version in 
his Von Bismarck bis zum Weltkrieg. In 1931 Japan seized Manchuria 
from China, and the League of Nations attempted to deal with the 
problem. It was widely believed at the time that Secretary of State 

Fifty Years of Exploring History 11 

Stimson had wished the United States to take more vigorous action 
than President Hoover approved of and that Great Britain had let 
the United States down. The publication in 1947 of the United States 
diplomatic correspondence in Foreign Relations of the United States 
showed how wide of the mark these hypotheses were. 

Nevertheless, in spite of all the difficulties and dangers, I believe 
that it is the duty of historians to record what they can about recent 
history. Take Temperley's History of the Peace Conference of Paris 
or Bergmann's History of Reparations, published in the 1920's. They 
put together what was then known, and they are of great value 
to a historian writing a generation later when full documentation is 
available. We must never forget the dictum of Ranke that what 
people believe to be true is at any given moment more important 
than the truth itself. The same remark applies to the annual Survey 
of International Affairs issued by the Royal Institute of International 
Affairs. Strictly speaking, these papers constitute journalism, not his- 
tory; but they do narrate what was believed at the time and what thus 
provided the basis for action. 

As a professional historian, I was happy to serve for seven years 
(1945-1952) in the historical division of the Department of State, 
for I learned much about the way in which a foreign office operates. 
But I was also disillusioned. In the first place, I was shocked to 
discover how ignorant officials of the department often were. Fre- 
quently I was called up and asked questions which seemed elementary 
to me, and it was only too evident that in many cases officers charged 
with formulating policy had but the vaguest notions about the 
backgrounds of their subjects and were operating on a day-to-day 
hunch based on the latest telegrams. This, let it be said, was not 
always the fault of the persons concerned, for the practice in the 
department of constantly shifting people from one post to another 
makes it impossible for an individual to "stay put" long enough to 
familiarize himself with the problems assigned to him. Before 1939 
many officers stayed on their jobs for years on end and learned them 
thoroughly. A return to that practice is greatly to be desired. 

One of my assignments was to write a history of the San Francisco 
conference which drew up the Charter of the United Nations, the 
question of publication being deferred. I wrote a history in some 
2500 typed pages, but it has never been published. The late Harold 
Temperley, who with G. P. Gooch edited the British Documents on 

12 The Fashion and Future of History 

the Origins of the War, 1898-1914, always insisted that they were 
not foreign office officials but scholars employed by the foreign 
office for a particular task. That was also my attitude during my 
years in the Department of State, although technically I was on the 
rolls as a regular member of the staff. I was and remained a his- 
torian. I never became a bureaucrat. In consequence my history of 
the San Francisco conference was written with complete detachment, 
and sometimes I criticized the policy of the State Department or 
the work of the American delegation. From the point of view of 
publication, this was a mistake, for the department was unwilling to 
admit— and I suppose it cannot admit— that it had ever acted otherwise 
than correctly and wisely. The kind of history required by the Depart- 
ment of State, if it is to be published, is the volume Postwar Foreign 
Policy Preparation, 1939-1945 (Washington, 1949) , a detailed record 
of what was done with the reasons therefor, but without any sugges- 
tion of criticism or evaluation. I feel no bitterness about the un- 
willingness to publish my history, on which I spent more than two 
years, for I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. I make my point to warn 
future historians that if they are asked to write official history from 
official documents, they must be prepared to conform to official 
standards. In passing, I note that the United States Army has a 
tougher hide, for the authors of the numerous volumes on the history 
of our ground troops in the Second World War have been free to 
criticize both the conduct of operations and the performance of 
individual commanders. The Navy has also given Admiral Morison, 
who was a historian long before he became a naval officer, a free 
hand, and he has used it. 

I have great confidence in the future of history and historical 
writing. In the first place, people can and do learn from history. 
Consider the ratification of the United Nations Charter by the 
Senate in 1945 with but two dissenting votes— a complete contrast 
with the action of the Senate in 1929 when it failed to ratify the 
treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations. It is 
clear, to me at least, that the lesson of 1920 had been taken to 
heart. President Roosevelt had learned that Wilson made a ghastly 
blunder in not giving the Republicans adequate representation on the 
Commission to Negotiate Peace, and did not repeat that mistake. 
Secretary Hull saw to it that members of the Senate were taken 
into confidence during the preliminary conferences at Dumbarton 

Fifty Years of Exploring History 13 

Oaks. Members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, 
of both parties, were appointed to the delegation at San Francisco. 
The people rallied to the Charter, I think, because they realized that 
the failure of the United States to join the League of Nations and to 
play its part in organizing collective security contributed greatly to 
the outbreak of the second and more terrible world war. It is also 
clear to me that Britain, France, Germany, and Italy are all re- 
solved not to repeat the mistakes made between the two wars. 

Secondly, not only is better history being written than was the 
case fifty years ago, but it is being written more attractively, so as 
to appeal to a much wider audience than the professional historians. 
There is still enough unexplored ground to keep the next generation 
of historians more than busy, and happily the increase of college 
enrollments will provide jobs by which they may support themselves. 
If I were a young man looking for a professional career, I would 
ask for nothing better than to be a historian. 

The Fashion and 
Future of History 

An address to the Graduate History Club of the University of Chi- 
cago in February 1933, after I had been appointed chairman of the 
department. The mood of the moment was one of deep discourage- 
ment resulting from the unending depression, of which the University 
was feeling the effects in a serious way. The department of history 
was being asked to reduce its offerings, while students who took ad- 
vanced degrees found jobs difficult to get. The occasion for my speech 
was the annual dinner of the Graduate History Club, which was 
attended by both students and faculty, and I tried to offer some 
encouragement to the graduate students to persevere. The persons 
mentioned by name were colleagues in the faculty, Ferdinand Schevill, 
who had come at the founding of the University in 1892 and lived 
to be 86; William E. Dodd, soon to be appointed ambassador to 
Germany and elected president of the American Historical Associa- 
tion; and Avery Craven, Dodd's successor in the field of southern 
history and now, like myself, retired. 

Rereading the paper after the lapse of nearly thirty years, I note 
with interest that I remarked that "much more attention must 
and will be paid to psychological influences and factors". This is just 
what William L. Langer, president of the American Historical Asso- 
ciation in 1957, called for in his presidential address "The Next 
Assignment" . 

In 1933 few people could have been found who took seriously 
the possibility of another European war. That war came in 1939, and 
a new perspective is required. The years from 1914 to 1945 now seem 
to have been taken up in a single conflict, the period from 1919 to 
1939 being an armistice between the two wars, and this is reflected in 
the latest historical writings. 

In 1933 fourteen states occupied eastern Europe from the 
Gulf of Finland to the Adriatic and the Aegean, an arrangement 
based on the principle of self-determination, for each of the states 
represented a nationality. It was not generally recognized that the 


16 The Fashion and Future of History 

situation was highly precarious, resulting from the defeat of both 
Germany and Russia in the First World War. As a result of the 
Russian victory in the Second World War, many of the independent 
states of 1919-1939 have now become Soviet satellites. Here again 
historians have to readjust their sights. 

Finally, in 1933, atomic energy was not yet discovered. Historians 
of the future will obviously have to take this into large account. 

In American history, a highly interesting development has been 
the willingness of many great business corporations to allow his- 
torians to have access to their archives and to write genuine history. 

W hen, sir, you honored me with an invitation to speak this evening 
to the Graduate History Club, I accepted with pleasure and with 
a certain glibness, for I assumed that it would be easy to find a suitable 
theme. Actually it has not been altogether easy. For a time I toyed 
with the idea of discoursing upon things seen and heard at Geneva 
in this annus terribilis just passed [1932]; but reflection indicated 
that this might seem to imply too complete an acceptance of the 
famous dictum that "history is past politics and politics present 
history." Moreover, even the incidents of Geneva, striking and 
spectacular as they often were, presented themselves in a scale of 
diminishing importance as what Professor Toynbee has called the 
'economic blizzard' increases its fury and ferocity. Nor, on an evening 
when historians, present and future, have gathered together in solemn 
recognition of their calling, did it appear altogether appropriate to 
dilate upon a subject about which, in spite of much information 
purveyed daily by the press, we are necessarily but partly informed 
and when that information is not readily subjected to the canons of 
historical criticism. Rather the instinct prevailed that on such an 
occasion one should choose a subject essentially historical or at least 
keep within the broad paths which History, with her all-embracing 
interests, allows her devotees to follow. 

Curiously enough, it was the discarded epigram of Freeman which 
suggested the line of thought which I shall venture to expound. 
When the great English historian proclaimed more than half a 
century ago that "history is past politics," not only did his country- 

The Fashion and Future of History 17 

men generally agree with him, but this philosophy was more or less 
accepted, at least in practice, by the professional historians. Yet 
because that idea is today a discarded shibboleth, it occurred to me 
that I might speak for a little while on the fashion and future of 
history, and ask what are the present and the possible conceptions 
of the task to which we have set ourselves. 

Freeman's famous phrase and the adaptation of it by Sir John 
Seeley, "Without history politics has no root, without politics history 
has no fruit," were natural enough when they were coined. At that 
time, which was the mid- Victorian era, those who wrote history and 
those who read it belonged largely to the aristocracy and upper 
middle classes who controlled government and politics, people whose 
inherited wealth permitted them to ignore the ordinary economic 
processes and to rest happily content with the prevailing social order. 
Not only that: the famous histories handed down from the past, 
whether those of classical antiquity or the popular writings of the 
late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, had dealt primarily 
with politics, that is, with government and religion, diplomacy and 
war. And before we laugh off this somewhat narrow conception of 
the human process, let us recognize that these older histories were 
written with a style and a verve which few can equal today, that 
for this very reason such books were widely read, and, what is 
more important, they were weighed, pondered and cherished. 

But this conventional view of history was hardly adequate when 
the industrial revolution, the enormous expansion of business and 
the opening up of our own West and the pampas of South America 
transformed not only the conditions of existence but of politics as well. 
And so the well-known economic interpretation of history made 
its appearance, and is still going strong. 

More recently, however, a new fashion has been intruding itself, 
what may perhaps be called, loosely and not very accurately, the 
intellectual interpretation of history. This finds its most emphatic 
expression in the doctrine of a famous professor of this University 1 
that history is only a method. Most of us were properly shocked to 
learn that what we had considered only a means was now the end 
of all our labors. But there is also Benedetto Croce, who, without 
going so far as our colleague, boldly proclaims that history is philos- 

l John M. Manley (1865-1940) , Chaucerian scholar. 

18 The Fashion and Future of History 

ophy. To put it more drably, this school contends that what men 
do is of less consequence than the reasons why they do it. And it 
is a fact that some of the most original and most stimulating books of 
recent years have been concerned with the history of ideas and the 
effect of those ideas. 

Lastly, we have to contemplate a biological interpretation of history. 
This fills me with complete horror, for my mind, as I have demon- 
strated to my own lamentable satisfaction, is impervious to the facts 
and formulae of science. By a biological interpretation I do not mean 
the evolutionary thesis of history— that was popularized and put over 
by the Romanticists a century ago— but the attempt to explain men's 
ideas and intellectual processes by their physical condition and re- 
actions. This is not so original as sometimes thought, for it has long 
been asserted that Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo because of 
some intestinal disturbance on the fatal day. But James Harvey 
Robinson was, I believe, the first historian of repute to advise his 
colleagues of this approach to their subject. One of his pupils, 
a well-known "revisionist," has been much taken by this new doc- 
trine, and I have been told— I do not vouch for this!— that on one 
exuberant occasion, he propounded the thesis that the Great War was 
caused by the fact that Izvolsky 2 suffered from some kind of glandular 
difficulty. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the peculiar 
mental make-up of William II, which more than one German medical 
man has declared to have been pathological, had profound con- 
sequences for the world. This approach to history is so new and the 
scientific data about historic figures so scant that we shall do well to 
be on our guard and not adopt it blindly; but clearly, it is something 
to consider. 

What I have been saying must sound to you very much like com- 
monplace, and you may properly ask why I am saying it. I am saying 
it in order to remind you that there is fashion in history as there is in 
clothes or cars. Each generation, in short, writes its own history 
in accordance with its own ideas. Consequently most of you, who are 
now presumably adjusting yourselves comfortably enough to the 
ideas of history purveyed to you by us professors, will probably, 
fifteen or twenty years hence, when you get into your stride, question 

2 Russian foreign minister, 1906-1910; ambassador in Paris 1910-1914, considered 
by some writers to be largely responsible for the war of 1914. 

The Fashion and Future of History 19 

many of our most precious premises. You will be asking yourselves 
why we failed to see this or understand that, you will put the books 
of which we are so proud on your highest shelves— where I have 
buried those which seemed indispensable to me at Oxford— and when 
you encounter us at the meetings of the American Historical Associa- 
tion you will be publicly respectful and privately a bit patronising. 

It can not and should not be otherwise. A static conception of 
history would be fatal to you and to history. The remorseless grub- 
bing after new facts, which is the lot of so many of us, is futile 
per se; it is worth while only if it permits us to see old pictures 
through new spectacles. Unless we are continually drawing new pat- 
terns and weaving new clothes, history degenerates into sheer anti- 
quarianism, which is the dullest of studies. 

The future of history, then, is in your hands. What will you 
make of it? No one can say. But perhaps one may venture to guess 
at some possible lines of approach to this new "new history." 

In the first place, much more attention must and will be paid to 
psychological influences and factors. Perhaps these factors will be 
measured by biological methods or the application of physics, perhaps 
not. But somehow they must be discovered and reckoned with. I 
can illustrate this by a reference to my own special field of study, 
diplomatic history. Read any manual of pre-war diplomacy or even 
full-dress presentations, and what do you find? Records of official 
negotiations, analyses of press opinion, estimates of results, and 
perhaps some pious moralizations. But what you rarely find is any 
attempt to link up momentous events with current feelings and 
prejudices. Since the war British policy has often run counter to that 
of France, and this attitude is usually rationalized by references to 
the balance of power, the economic necessities of Britain, reluctance to 
undertake new commitments, etc. Certainly these motives are impor- 
tant, perhaps even decisive. But what is back of these motives? Talk to 
Englishmen, and you will not be long in discovering that in spite of, 
or perhaps because of, the war, Frenchmen are still thought of in 
England as immoral, atheistic, dirty and light-headed, and large 
numbers of Englishmen wish to have as little to do as possible with 
such people. Similarly, before the war, one obstacle in the way of 
a Franco-German understanding was a certain Gallic repugnance for 
Teutonic manners. German travellers in France were notorious for 
making much noise, eating too much, and behaving generally like 

20 The Fashion and Future of History 

parvenus. French taste was offended— considerations which the Temps 
and the Documents Diplomatiques Francais consistently ignore. One 
final example— will the historians of the American election of 1928 
record the fact that, as it would appear, thousands of women voted 
for Herbert Hoover for no better reason than that they did not wish 
to see Mrs. Alfred E. Smith in the White House? In other words, it 
is not sufficient to analyse newspapers, periodicals and books. Some- 
how, if we are to understand what has happened, we have to break 
through the crust of formalized opinion and discover what the people 
were thinking and saying, and why they did so. Just how this is to 
be done is not easy to say, for the more distant the period, the scant- 
ier the records of popular feeling and emotion. But a brilliant 
paper read at the Toronto meeting of the American Historical As- 
sociation by a recent Ph.D. of this University on "Propaganda in the 
American Revolution" 3 gives a hint of what can be done. If it will 
frequently be impossible to discover what was being thought and said 
up and down the broad highways, at least the effort can be made to 
trace the action taken by governments and individuals to disseminate 
and popularize facts, alleged facts, and ideas. Perhaps no field of re- 
search offers greater opportunities to those who do not fancy the con- 
ventional leads. 

But probably attention will continue to be concentrated upon the 
history of our economic and social structure. From this point I shall 
grow a bit reckless and I dare say even quite unhistorical. Suppose 
that Spengler is right in thinking that western civilization is on the 
decline and approaching a collapse. Or, to be more precise, suppose 
that fifty years hence the world has turned communist. Will not 
the historians then be demonstrating that the course of events for 
the last 200 years has led inexorably in that direction? 

Which brings me to the very perilous question of law in history. 
For centuries the wish to predict the future of mankind from its 
actions in the past has been the fata morgana of historians. During 
a thousand years, from the disintegration of the Roman Empire to the 
end of the Middle Ages, the ecclesiastical historians saw everywhere 
and in all phenomena the hand and mind of God and believed in 
"one far-off divine event to which the whole creation moves." Within 
the last century Buckle thought he had found the clue in geographical 

3 Philip S. Davidson, now president of the University of Louisville. 

The Fashion and Future of History 21 

influences and physical environment, and Auguste Comte essayed a 
System of Positive Philosophy. In our own day Professor Bury has 
written a book on the Idea of Progress and Professor Cheyney has 
addressed the A. H. A. on Law in History. Nor do these scholars 
have the last word. There is a professor in this University— I shall 
disguise him by inaccurately calling him a sociologist— who is mani- 
festing much interest in the future of history. He was not always so 
enlightened, but, as I happen to know, he has been indoctrinated 
by Mr. Dodd and Mr. Craven. In a recent conversation with me he 
expressed the hope, and even the conviction, that in the course 
of the next few years— a decade, or perhaps a generation— a new 
school of history would arise, in this University of Chicago, which 
would seriously and consciously apply the study of history to the 
study, if not the solution, of contemporary problems. He believes 
that by a re-examination of historical processes, by the exact measure- 
ment of social phenomena, by a greater knowledge of the workings 
of the human mind and the organs of the human body, we can 
evolve a new science which, though it may not reveal the precise 
laws of history, will surely contribute profoundly to our understand- 
ing of the world in which we live. Just how this re-examination is 
to be made, my interlocutor did not know, nor, for that matter, 
did he greatly care. But he threw out one intriguing idea. The data 
of history, he asserted, have always been conditioned by chronology 
and geography, that is, the historian has been content to inquire 
what happened in a certain place and when. But may there not be 
some other factor, something analogous to the theory of relativity in 
the physical sciences? Only much research and prolonged reflection 
can answer this question, but it might be worth our while to accept 
the challenge. In any case, I personally agree with my friend that 
history ought to be a more useful and more practical subject of study, 
and I hope that we may discover the means for making it so. 

I have already intimated that in my opinion historical research 
often degenerates into mere antiquarianism. Obviously the facts 
have to be gathered. There is also a certain legitimate curiosity about 
the past as such. This emotion, however, does not affect most people, 
for most people, at least in this country, are rather contemptuous of 
the past. (In England, on the other hand, there is too much reverence 
for the past!) If history is to be a vital study, it must do something 
more than stimulate intellectual curiosity or satisfy romantic crav- 

22 The Fashion and Future of History 

ings: it must deliberately and unswervingly adhere to the idea that 
"the roots of the present lie deep in the past," as Bishop Stubbs put it. 
We all believe this adage— but how often do we apply it in our writ- 
ings? In the last three years there has been considerable study of 
the history of previous depressions, in the hope of finding comfort 
and a cure. But, in the days of prosperity, did the historians or the 
economists come forward with histories and analyses of past booms? 
I am afraid they did not. Another kind of example: Before 1914 
it was very difficult to find out what had been happening in the 
world since about 1871, for the historians had refused to concern 
themselves with contemporary history. Not that the historians could 
have prevented the war! But if they had been on the job, at least 
the world would not have been taken so by surprise when war 
finally came. 

If history is to explain the present, there will have to be much 
more synthesis than we are used to. To be sure, we are always 
hearing about synthesis, but we really get very little of it. So far as my 
own reading goes, only the Beards' Rise of America?! Civilization 
provides it. Since my knowledge of American history is derived 
largely from attendance on Ph.D. examinations, I am not competent 
to criticise the Beards' book. But who does not admire this brilliant 
picture of the interaction of politics, economics, social forces, religion 
and ideas? We are shown, in precise and clear-cut manner, how these 
several factors did affect each other and can see the actual evolution 
of a complicated civilization. This is the kind of history which I 
hope you will write. And there is abundant opportunity if you are 
students of European history. Consider any account of Europe from 
1871 to 1914. There will be chapters on internal development, sec- 
tions on foreign policy and imperialism, a general survey of socialism, 
pacifism, etc., and then a narrative of the grand smash. But just how 
internal politics reacted on foreign affairs and vice versa— this has 
not yet been shown. No one has yet done for pre-war Europe what 
Albert Sorel did for the Europe of the old regime in the classic first 
volume of L'Europe et la Revolution francaise. Will one of you do it? 

But whatever you may do, how will you do it? In other words, I 
have to raise the eternal question whether history is a science or an 
art, and I do this the more enthusiastically because, as I am informed, 
the remarks on this same subject by Mr. Schevill at last year's dinner 
provoked a lively exchange of views, and also because I should like 

The Fashion and Future of History 23 

to air my own views. "Science," said the great Lord Acton, "is the 
combination of a great mass of similar facts into the unity of a 
generalization, a principle, or a law, which principle or law will 
enable us to predict with certainty the recurrence of like events under 
given conditions." Naturally, therefore, he denied that there was or 
could be a science of history. On the other hand, Professor Bury 
affirmed with great positiveness that of course history was a science. 
Evidently much depends on what you mean by science. A recent 
English writer has remarked that science does not cease to be 
science because it sometimes fails to formulate its laws or achieve 
the gift of prophecy. Thus meteorology cannot be denied the quality 
of a science because the laws according to which sunshine and storm 
succeed one another are as yet undiscovered and because weather 
forecasts are often wrong in exact ratio as they are precise. Science, in 
the mind of this writer, can be denned as "systematized, organized, 
formulated knowledge"; and history, the original meaning of which 
is investigation, is therefore a science if it is pursued with the sole 
purpose of ascertaining the truth, if all relevant facts are diligently 
searched for, if presuppositions and prejudices are eliminated, if 
the constants and the variables are noted and plotted with the same 
care that is the rule in the natural sciences. But do we really care 
whether the chemists and the mathematicians accord our study the 
title and dignity of a science? We believe that the critical methods 
which we use in the acquisition of historical information are every 
whit as scientific as those of the laboratory or the field expedition. 
For my part, I am willing to let the matter rest there. 

At the same time, and I am now back on the main line of my 
thought, we must never forget that history, when we use the word 
in its second meaning of a record of our investigations, is an art. 
Certainly we must be as scientific as we know how to be in gathering 
and selecting our facts— but if, in presenting them we are only 
scientific, nobody will care greatly how many facts we assemble. 

What has really been gained if you write a learned and dull 
book to be read by someone just as learned and probably just as 
dull as yourself? That such books are useful as works of reference 
to public officials, journalists, and writers of term-papers, may be 
admitted. The public, however, will not read them. 

Unfortunately, it is currently believed by the professional his- 
torians that if an historical work is brightly written and easily read, 

24 The Fashion and Future of History 

it must be inaccurate and sloppy. In many cases this is true, but 
I fear that we teachers of history have laid too much emphasis on 
references and footnotes and too little on form to be exonerated from 
all blame. The enormous vogue of popular biographies indicates 
that the general reading public likes to read history. It is because 
properly-trained persons have been unable or unwilling to supply 
this demand with well-written books that hacks and sensationalists 
get a hearing. I have no intention of depreciating research. No 
one can be a sound historian who does not know how to do research 
and who has not actually done it. Perhaps style is a gift of the 
gods. But surely everyone can try to write as if he wished somebody 
to read what he wrote. Do you ever read Gibbon, Macaulay, John 
Richard Green, Francis Parkman or Trevelyan to discover the 
secrets of their style? 

Of course a pleasing literary style is not the only ingredient of 
good historical writing. Often enough well-written books have no 
other historical merit. The Journal of Modern History has on hand 
at the moment a review of a new book by one of the best stylists 
among American historians; but. the reviewer thinks rather unkindly 
of the book because of its defective organization, its lack of synthesis 
and its neglect of certain well-recognized canons. How often, in your 
own reading, have you not felt that the author was interested only 
in stringing together as many facts as possible without regard to 
effect on the reader? We can take lessons from the journalists whom 
we sometimes affect to despise. Very definitely, they write for their 
public, resorting to various literary devices and never forgetting 
that their mission is to impress. You may or may not like the style 
of the English historian G. P. Gooch; but you will have to admit 
that he always builds up his narrative in logical fashion, that he 
glides naturally and easily from one theme to another, and that at 
the end, you have a finished picture of the whole with every detail 
in its proper place and the wood visible in the trees. Here again, 
you cannot do better than to study the form of the great masters. 

I have now invited you to reconsider your philosophy of history and 
have urged you to improve your technique: quite enough preaching 
for one evening. To conclude on a more cheerful note, let me indicate 
some fruitful fields of research, confining myself for obvious reasons 
to modern European history. The most generally neglected period 

The Fashion and Future of History 25 

is the seventeenth century, except in English history: which does not 
surpise me, for I could never arouse any enthusiasm about the 
Thirty Years' War, Louis XIV or the Spanish Succession. But the 
social and economic history of the age is very superficially known 
and will repay investigation. Or, if you want a geographical approach, 
Scandinavia, Slavic Europe and the Ottoman Empire call loudly for 
explorers. In these cases the problem of language does offer some 
difficulty, but you can certainly learn one language besides French 
and German, and you will have the great advantage of working 
an unfamiliar field and being able to lord it over ordinary people. 
It was this point of view that led Professor Seton-Watson many 
years ago to take up the study of Hungarian and Serbian history. 
Moreover, if you relish the notion of watching historical forces and 
traditions actively at work in the contemporary world, Eastern 
Europe is well worth your attention. History, and often very bad 
history, is invoked at every turn in such questions as the Polish 
corridor, agrarian reform in Czechoslovakia, Croatian separatism, 
Macedonia and Bessarabia. So, just as Horace Greeley used to bid 
young men go west, one can now say to young historians, go Slavic. 
Still, your bent may not lie in that direction, so that some other 
roads may be suggested. You can break new ground by studying the 
history of railways with special reference to their political and social 
and even military effects, the growth of state policy towards industry, 
the history of social classes, or of societies and movements, or of 
minorities, and the changing code of morals and ethics. The reasons 
for European emigration have been frequently studied, but the 
reverse of the picture, the effects of emigration on Europe, remain 
to be investigated, and since emigration has largely ceased, there is 
some chance of doing a definitive job. Another highly interesting and 
important subject is legal history, which is just beginning to be taken 
seriously; along with this might be mentioned the history of admin- 
istration. And I would even put in a word for military history. If I 
were not so deeply committed to diplomatic history, I should like 
nothing better than to try my hand at the military and naval opera- 
tions of the late war. Or a most fruitful study can be made of the 
conceptions of strategy which rose and fell in the period from 
1871 to 1914 and of the interactions of strategy and international 
politics. A friend of mine is writing a book on what he calls "The 

26 The Fashion and Future of History 

Eastern Front, 1871-1914", and my guess is that it will throw more 
light on the origins of the war than most diplomatic treatises. 1 In 
short, there is no lack of themes which will repay investigation, pro- 
vided you use your imagination and do not depend too much on us 
professors to find topics for you. 

I do not know if there is any clear-cut idea running though my 
rather rambling remarks, but I have tried to do two things. First, 
to get you to think about the meaning and purpose and possibility 
of history. It is very easy to concentrate on the tasks immediately 
before us, whether preparing for next day's class or writing a book 
review, and in so doing, to lose sight of the larger aspects of our 
study, and precisely for that reason, so much of what is written is 
dull and uninspired. We need, every so often, to ask ourselves what 
it is all about and where we are going. Perhaps we cannot answer 
our own questions, but is not that all the more reason for asking 
them? In the second place, I have wished to encourage you. When 
I was a graduate student, I was often oppressed by the learning of 
my instructors (perhaps we modern professors are not so learned!) 
and wondered if ever I could scale such heights. Fortunately, my 
thesis lay in what was then— believe it or not! —an almost virgin 
field, namely, the diplomatic history of Europe since the Franco- 
German war, and one could feel quite superior because one's col- 
leagues were so delightfully ignorant, including the professors. It 
may be different now, for your generation is not supposed to suffer 
from inferiority complexes. But if you are so afflicted, the way of 
salvation lies open: pick a field for study which is new or unpopular, 
cultivate it assiduously, and the chances are that by the time you 
have tilled it into bearing fruit, it will have been recognized as 
important or even urgent and lo! you will have arrived. Mere routine 
will not take you any farther in history than it does in business, 
but the rewards of imagination are infinite. 

The other day I was irreverently asked if history had any future. 
Sometimes it does seem as if history is in danger of being squeezed 
out between the social sciences and the humanities. It is alleged on 
the one hand that the social sciences have no real interest in history 
and on the other hand that the humanities concern themselves only 
with its cultural aspects. I believe this view too pessimistic. Surely 

1 Alas! This book was never completed. 

The Fashion and Future of History 27 

we have much to teach the economists, the political scientists and the 
sociologists. But we must teach them. It is not enough to assure them 
that they will profit by the study of history: we must show them 
that it is worth their while. We have, I submit, to link the past 
with the present much more definitely and purposely than we have 
hitherto done and to make the lessons of the past clear and helpful. 
Is it not rather humiliating that the most vivid interpretation of 
American history has been worked out by Charles A. Beard, who 
throughout his academic career was a professor of political science? 
On the side of the humanities there has been an artificial division 
between history and literature. Much literary criticism dealing with 
older writers has been divorced from the life of the time. But is not 
the fault partly, if not largely, our own? In the last few years several 
books have been published interpreting American literature in the 
terms of American life, but they have not been written by historians. 
I do not wish to imply that we should become literary historians; but 
it is, I fear, only too notorious that most of us know little about the 
literature and other cultural achievements of the periods which we 
study. I can say this because I am quite a sinner myself. 

History, then, has a future, and a great future, if we exert our- 
selves to that end. But we shall have to adjust ourselves to changing 
times and needs and not be bound by customary and conventional 
approaches. What the new course is to be, is not for me to say, 
since the taste and temper of I960 1 cannot be predicted in 1933. It 
is for you who are now on the threshold of your careers to blaze the 
new trail. Learn what we can teach you, but keep your minds 
flexible, and, I say it for the third time, don't be afraid to use your 

1 When I wrote this I did not dream that the paper would be published in 1960. 

The Age of Extravagance 

A paper read to the Literary Society of Washington, D.C. in April 
1959. The Society, founded in 1874, consists of forty members (like 
the French Academy!) and meets eight times a year, the members 
being accompanied by their spouses. The membership has included 
presidents of the United States, cabinet members, justices of the 
Supreme Court, members of Congress, and foreign ambassadors. 
Obviously the papers should not be too heavy, and I have con- 
sciously tried for a light touch. Some one remarked that my age of 
extravagance— the reign of King Edward VII of England— was now 
as far behind us (and as unbelievable to contemporaries) as the ages 
of Jackson or Washington. 

I have described what I saw in the England of that day. A similar 
picture, minus royalty, could be drawn of the United States. An in- 
triguing question— unanswerable, of course— is, how long could 
such an age have lasted had war not broken out in 19141 From 
1919 to 1929 some effort was made to revive the pre-war world, but 
it was not too successful, and after 1929 people were thankful if 
they survived the great depression. Since the Second World War, 
Edwardian England has become the "good old days," and the nostal- 
gia is reflected in numerous plays and novels. 

I o begin on a personal note: I went to England in October 1905 
in the good ship Haverford out of Philadelphia, paying $42.50 
for passage in the one-class ship. I was traveling without a passport— 
for it was still an age of innocence in which nations trusted one 
another. I was en route to Oxford University, where I had been 
appointed a Rhodes Scholar. 

This was a completely new world to me, for I had grown up in 
Knoxville, Tennessee, a town of 40,000, and I had never been any- 
where except to Washington. Not only was I very ignorant, but being 


30 The Fashion and Future of History 

only 19, I was also very impressionable. I stayed three years in 
England without coming home. At Oxford I met Stanley Hornbeck, 
sometime ambassador to the Netherlands, who had preceded me by 
a year; Charles Mahaffie, until recently a member of the Interstate 
Commerce Commission; and the late Carol Foster, who spent thirty 
years in the Department of State and the Foreign Service. 

Edward VII was king. A famous book describing the England of 
his day, Edward and the English, by Price Collier, appeared in 1909, 
shortly after my return. I have recently reread it, and find it much 
marked up with criticisms by myself and by Benjamin Bruce Wal- 
lace, another Rhodes Scholar of my time who was for many years 
a member of the Tariff Commission. Collier described England as 
"The land of compromise" and asked "Are the English dull?" I did 
not find them so, but I did find them different. (Twenty years later 
a Dr. Renier wrote a book entitled The English: Are They Human?) 

In recent years there has been a spate of books on Edwardian 
England: Virginia Cowles, Edward VII and his Circle; 1 W. S. Adams, 
Edwardian Portraits; 2 Shaw Desmond, The Edwardian Story; 3 James 
Laver, Edwardian Promenade; 4 Ursula Bloom, The Elegant Edward- 
ians; 5 W. Macqueen Pope, Give Me Yesterday 6 (a nostalgic com- 
parison of the Welfare State with Edwardian England) ; and a com- 
posite volume, The Age of Extravagance, edited by Mary Elizabeth 
Edes and Dudley Frasier, 7 which provides the title of this paper. To 
the somewhat drab Britain of the nineteen fifties, Edwardian 
England, which lasted until 1914 (although Edward VII died in 
1910) looks like a golden age, and very lovingly have these writers, 
most of whom remember it in person, recorded its glories and its 

Edward succeeded his mother in January 1901. For forty years 
Queen Victoria had denied him any part in the government, and 
his first act was to discard "Albert", his father's name, which he 
had been forced to accept, and to announce that he would be known 

1 London: Hamish Hamilton, 1956. 

2 London: Seeker & Warburg, 1957. 

3 London: Rockliff, 1949. 

4 London: Hulton, 1958. 

5 London: Hutchinson, 1957. 

6 London: Hutchinson, 1957. 

7 London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1955. 

The Age of Extravagance 31 

as Edward. This was not the only sign that a new age was beginning. 
Because of his exclusion from politics, the Prince of Wales had given 
himself over to pleasure and become the leader of Society with a 
capital S. He was named as the co-respondent in a divorce suit, and 
among his intimates figured, according to gossip, Skittles, a famous 
courtesan, Lily Langtry, a famous beauty and actress, and many 
others. The Prince was also something of a gambler and accumulated 
enormous debts. These "little wickednesses" as they were called, en- 
deared him at once to the aristocracy, who imitated them, and to the 
masses, who looked upon them as a sign that he was human, a tribute 
further recognized by his popular name of "Teddy". A populace 
devoted at all levels to horse-racing rejoiced with the Prince when 
on three different occasions his horses won the Derby. Further evi- 
dence of the "common touch" lay in the fact that Edward was such 
a heavy eater, taking six meals a day, that Rudyard Kipling privately 
called him "a corpulent voluptuary." He was in fact shaped like 
a barrel, something that could not be concealed by the most elegantly- 
contrived clothes. 

The truth is that the English people had become bored with the 
conventions and stuffiness of the Victorian age, and when the new 
king let it be seen that he was interested in amusing himself and in 
being comfortable, his people took up the cue, and Edwardian 
England proceeded to splurge as the Age of Elegance had done under 
George IV nearly a hundred years before. This was possible because 
Britain in the decade before 1914 was at the height of the pros- 
perity which had begun with the industrial revolution at the end 
of the eighteenth century. It was the dominant commercial country 
of the world (although Germany and the United States were catching 
up) , and the one country where prosperity depended on the excess 
of imports over exports, this excess being the dividends from over- 
seas investments and the services of British shipping, which were 
larger than those of the rest of the world put together. The Edward- 
ians were not always conscious of how the system worked, but the 
money rolled in and both the aristocracy and the middle classes 
spent it freely. 

The aristocracy was typified by the Duke of Rutland, whose 
daughter was the famous Lady Diana Manners, later the wife of Duff 
Cooper, Viscount Norwich. It was she who made a theatrical sensa- 
tion in the leading role of the nun in "The Miracle." She describes 

32 The Fashion and Future of History 

in her autobiography The Rainbow Comes and Goes, the servant 
problem at Beauvoir Castle. One ancient retainer "three times a 
day rang the gong— for luncheon, for dressing time, for dinner", and 
that was all, and "then there were the lamp-and-candle men, at 
least three of them", who did nothing but take care of the primitive 
lighting facilities. In addition there were water men, coal men, watch- 
men. Or take the Marquess of Bath. His seat at Longleat required 
43 servants, and when the family moved to London for the season, 
22 servants and 11 horses moved with him. The middle classes, on a 
less pretentious scale, also had their servants. One writer describes 
his family's house in London, with its 97 steps from basement to 
roof. Three servants were needed to take care of this establishment. 
Out of a total population of about 40,000,000 nearly two million 
were classified as domestic servants. They were, as a class, proud of 
their occupation, and passed their jobs on from generation to gen- 
eration. On the other hand, ample service did not, in the eyes of 
visiting Americans, compensate for the general lack of bathrooms 
and central heating, even in the finest houses. 

The coronation of Edward VII in the summer of 1902 was to be a 
spectacle outstripping Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and 
royalties had already begun to arrive when the king had to undergo 
an appendectomy and the ceremony was postponed. When finally 
enacted, the coronation was somewhat subdued, but the daughter of 
Lord Esher, who had much to do with the exercises in Westminster 
Abbey, has provided an amusing account of how her father managed 
to smuggle into the crypt a crate marked OHMS ("On His Majesty's 
Service") , filled with sandwiches and champagne which were joy- 
fully consumed after the ceremony. But the consumers made so 
much noise that they were raided by the police and were saved only 
because the Earl Marshal of England, the Duke of Norfolk, came 
along and was appeased by a glass of champagne. 

The coronation over, King Edward replaced the dreary drawing- 
room receptions held by his mother with brilliant evening courts, to 
which he invited not only the hereditary aristocracy, but business 
men like Sir Thomas Lipton, Jewish financiers like Sir Ernest Cassell 
who took care of Edward's debts, American heiresses, and anybody 
who was interesting and amusing. These lavish entertainments 
naturally pleased the shopkeepers and all those who cater to pleas- 
ure and amusement. The king was fond of the theatre and for the 

The Age of Extravagance 33 

first time actors received social recognition. Incidentally, the best 
seats— the stalls— cost 10/6 ($2.50) , and evening dress— white tie and 
tails— was de rigeur (I used to sit in the pit, for 2/6 [60 cents]) . 

The king was fond of visiting the great country houses, and it was 
customary for the happy host to have his place redecorated for the 
royal visit. These hosts were not necessarily British, for one of his 
favorite haunts was the residence of Mrs. Willie James, who was an 
American. On such occasions, if you read the Court Circular, you 
would discover that the king's latest inamorata was always mentioned 
in the list of guests. These royal activities— as well as the doings of 
society in general— could be followed in the three society papers, 
Tatler, Sketch and Bystander, which appeared every Wednesday. 
It was from these papers that I became aware of the existence of a 
leisured class, people, that is, who never worked and often did 
nothing but amuse themselves. 

King Edward was fond of travelling, and every year he visited 
the Continent, sometimes more than once a year. In the course of 
his short reign he called on almost all his fellow sovereigns except the 
Sultan of Turkey; incidentally, he had to spend a month at Marien- 
bad to take the cure after a strenuous season! The only ruler with 
whom his relations were difficult was his nephew William II, but 
they managed to preserve the amenities. The Germans were fond 
of accusing the king of promoting the encirclement of Germany. 
Actually Edward had little influence on British foreign policy, ex- 
cept that he persuaded the Parisians in 1903 to cheer rather than 
to hiss him. He was always briefed by the foreign office before his 
interviews. What he did contribute was personal charm, and the 
resolution to refrain from making irritating speeches in the manner 
of William II. 

The king happened to be at Biarritz in April 1908 when the prime 
minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, resigned on account of 
ill health, and the monarch "sent for" (as the phrase goes) H. H. 
Asquith. I recall that some of the papers thought that the king should 
have returned to London for this solemn duty, because one of the 
few powers left to an English sovereign is to select his prime minister. 
Other papers, however, pointed out that the very fact that the king 
did not deem it necessary to return to London showed how powerless 
he was in fact, for the king's right to choose his prime minister is 
more apparent than real. It was probably at this time of Edward's 

34 The Fashion and Future of History 

visit to Biarritz that a French newspaper published pictures of the 
portly king walking by the seaside with a lady— whose face was care- 
fully blotted out! 

I myself saw King Edward and Queen Alexandra when they 
opened Parliament in January 1908, but I was not close enough to get 
a really good view. Edward's death in May 1910 came as a surprise, 
and he was genuinely mourned by all classes. But it is now evident 
that he never obtained the hold on his subjects that his son George 
V and his grandson George VI came to enjoy. History will not 
recognize that he accomplished very much for his country. 

From early in May until August 12, after which date grouse could 
be shot on the moors of Scotland, London was the social capital 
of the world. Diana Cooper has described the doings, sometimes al- 
most irresponsible, of the young set to which she belonged. Sir 
Osbert Sitwell, whose tyrannical father had insisted on his be- 
coming an officer in a Guards regiment, devoted at least as much 
time to his social as to his military duties; you may read the details 
in the third volume of his fabulous reminiscences. Dinners, dances, 
receptions, garden parties (including those at Buckingham Palace) 
left no time for boredom. The West End was filled with fine carriages 
drawn by superb horses, and there was a daily parade of both 
equipages and their owners in Hyde Park. The high points of the 
season were the two race meets at Ascot and Goodwood, the Henley 
Regatta, and Cowes Week, where the most famous yachtsmen, in- 
cluding sometimes the Kaiser and the Tsar, came together. After 
August 12 society scattered to its country houses or to Scotland for the 
shooting or to the Continent. 

Standard dress for men was the top hat and the frock coat (what 
we called a Prince Albert) , with the inevitable umbrella; by 1914 
the morning coat (or cutaway) was replacing the frock, but that 
irrepressible soldier, Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, always referred 
to the politicians as "frocks" because that was the costume they 
affected. This civilian uniform was adopted by middle-class men as 
well, and was worn even in banks and shops. I myself acquired such 
an outfit when I attended the opening of Parliament. 

Of women's clothes, I speak with some hesitation. However, there 
are plenty of photographs in the books I have mentioned, photos of 
single women, of women in groups, and of mixed groups, so that 
a mere man can see for himself. Most obviously, clothes were much 

The Age of Extravagance 35 

fuller than they are now, partly, no doubt because, as one writer 
remarks, there were at least five layers from the inside out. Next, 
skirts were bell-shaped and trailed the ground, so that innumerable 
crossing-sweepers had to be employed to keep the pavement clean. 
When dressed up for summer parties, women always wore boas and 
carried parasols, and their hats were enormous, "merry widows" 
I believe they were called, after the style set by the famous Viennese 
operetta. In general, women's clothes, like men's, were much more 
formal than they are today, and any evening function, not merely 
in high society but also among the middle classes, called for evening 
dress. One of the fashion experts I am following notes that country 
clothes were unknown, their being a development after the First 
World War; on the other hand, the matching of shoes, bags and 
gloves had not yet been thought of and the use of many colors in a 
single costume was highly regarded. In American eyes, however, 
English women were seldom smart, and even then it was well 
established that Americans, men as well as women, could be detected 
by their shoes. 

In season and out of season, the week-end (which then meant 
from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning) was a national insti- 
tution, and the most eloquent picture of the age of extravagance 
is the account of a week-end, as observed in the highest circles, 
written by Sir Harold Nicolson, the author of well-known books on 
good behavior and the English sense of humor. Its chief characteristic 
was that the week-enders "ate excessively and competitively". "No 
age, since that of Nero, can show such unlimited addiction to food", 
and the menus are set forth at length. "Who among us today would 
really dress for church and dress for luncheon and dress for tea and 
dress again for dinner? Who among us would possess the endurance 
to relish all those meals, to relish all that tittle-tattle? . . . The Ed- 
wardians were vulgar to a degree. They lacked style. They possessed 
only the hard glitter of their own electric light: a light which beat 
down pitilessly upon courtier, ptarmigan, bridge scores, little enamel 
boxes, and plates and plates of food." 8 

In this sophisticated society, sex was not talked about, although it 
had plenty of devotees, and certain words (not merely the four-letter 
words) , but also others ("bloody" being the most famous, and "sick" 

8 "The Edwardian Weekend", in The Age of Extravagance, pp. 247, 252. 

36 The Fashion and Future of History 

another) were eschewed. Divorce was unusual partly because it was 
very expensive, but also because a woman had to prove not only 
adultery but also cruelty on the part of her spouse. Young girls 
had to have chaperones, and "dating" was unknown. One of my 
Oxford friends— an American— called twice on a young lady and 
was immediately asked what were his intentions. 

Thanks to the Atlantic Union, I was able to have a peek at this 
elegant world. The Union existed to extend social courtesies to 
Colonial and American visitors to England (its place is now taken by 
the English-Speaking Union) , and every vacation— Christmas, Easter 
and summer— the Rhodes Scholars would receive invitations to 
various functions in London. I attended a large reception on almost 
the first evening spent in London, and as the night was very foggy, 
I made the acquaintance of the "runner", some unemployed person 
or waif who lighted your way and expected a few coppers. While I 
never went to a top-notch party, I did get inside some very nice 
houses. We repaid this hospitality by showing visitors around Oxford 
and giving them tea in our rooms. In later years I came to realize 
that the high-born and well-bred people one met in this fashion 
took it for granted that England was the first nation in the world 
and that they were entitled to rule it. What made the Germans so 
objectionable before 1914 was that they envied the English their 
poise, tried to imitate it, and failed completely. On the other hand, 
in spite of all the conventions and of the restraints which to Ameri- 
cans often savored of stiffness, there was room for individual person- 
ality and even for eccentricity to a degree we have never attained. If 
you did not wish to conform, that was your right, and you were 
not persecuted for being different. 

Curiously enough, the age of extravagance was also an age of 
inexpensiveness. Good hand-tailored suits could be bought for three 
guineas, evening clothes for five, equivalent then to $15 and $25 
respectively. Railway travel, third class, was a penny a mile, an inland 
telegram cost a shilling for twelve words; sixpence was a good tip. 
The books record two dinners unbelievable in 1959. A gallant soldier 
took an Italian princess to dine at the Carlton Hotel (which alas! 
was bombed out in the late war) , an establishment patronized by 
Edward VII when he was still Prince of Wales. They had oysters, 
soup, filet of sole, noisettes, supreme of volaille, ortolans, salad, 
peaches, coffee and champagne, and the bill was £2 19s. 6d., less than 

The Age of Extravagance 37 

$15. The same gentleman too a prominent actress to lunch at Ro- 
mano's in the Strand, and for £2 4s. (less than $11) they ate hors d' 
oeuvre (known in Oxford as "work-horses") , soup, fish, mutton 
cutlets, peas and potatoes, partridge, salad, artichokes, ice cream 
and coffee, the whole washed down with champagne and liqueurs. 

At this time the automobile was just coming in. They were usually 
large affairs driven by chauffeurs, and they were, in 1905, still so few 
that as one writer put it, "it was very hard to get run over in Lon- 
don". In Oxford a few undergraduates— only one in my college- 
had cars. The rule of the horse was still maintained by 7200 hansom 
cabs in London, by the hundreds of horse-drawn buses, and by a post 
office bus which carried the parcel post every night from Oxford to 
London. But this was not to last. By the time the First World War 
broke out, there were only 300 hansoms left, and all buses had 
been motorized. The London streets were certainly less interesting 
after the fine horses had disappeared. Aviation was confined to 
military purposes, and very little of that. 

Two other points must be mentioned. First, gold was in normal 
circulation in the form of sovereigns and half-sovereigns, which were 
generally carried in small silver coin cases attached to the other end of 
the watch chain, and this gold was accepted everywhere on the con- 
tinent at practically face value. And there was no need for a passport. 
Second, the English trains were noiseless, smooth-running, clean and 
punctual. Oxford is 63i/2 miles from London. The standard running 
time for non-stop expresses was 70 minutes, which included getting 
started and slowing down. 

Finally, a word must be said about the Empire Lounge, the most 
notorious spot in London, where ladies of the town could always be 
found impeccably dressed and to which Englishmen returning home 
after a long absence abroad instinctively repaired, for they were 
sure to find a lot of old friends. It was also visited by the under- 
graduates of Oxford and Cambridge after a great sporting event 
and made the scene of a "rag". 

Looking back fifty years, James Laver has written an "Ode on a 
Distant Prospect of the Edwardian Epoch": 9 

Ye distant times, ye vanished hours 
Thrice happy first decade, 

9 Cf. Thomas Gray's "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College". 

38 The Fashion and Future of History 

Above whose ghostly people towers 

Great Edward's genial shade; 

We who used to frolic while 'twas May, 

And in a meaner epoch set, 

Look backward from our vale of tears 

And see across the gulf of years 

Your glory gleaming yet. 

Then follow three stanzas describing the outdoor scenes in Hyde Park 
and elsewhere, with 

The men, frock-coated, tall and proud, 
The women in a silken cloud. . . . 

And the final stanza: 

Ah, pleasant and primeval ways! 
Ah, times beloved in vain! 
Ah, good King Edward's golden days! 
They'll never come again 10 

There was of course another side to this picture. Benjamin Disraeli 
in his famous novel Sybil (1845) talked about the "two nations" of 
England, the rich and the poor, and it is of the rich that I have been 
speaking. But the poor were alas! only too much in evidence, wherever 
one went, and the prime minister in the Liberal government which 
took office shortly after my arrival, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, 
declared that twelve millions, or nearly a quarter of the population, 
lived on the verge of starvation, a statement that anticipated the 
famous remark of Franklin D. Roosevelt about one-third of Americans 
being ill-fed, ill-housed and ill-clothed. 

In the election of January 1906, the Liberal party won the largest 
majority in the history of the House of Commons and soon embarked 
on a program of social reform which was to lead, with many interrup- 
tions, to the Welfare State of today. During my stay the most im- 
portant step was the introduction of an old-age pension for persons 
over 70 in the amount of five shillings a week, which was bitterly 
opposed by the Conservative party. This was followed by the Lloyd 
George budget and insurance for sickness and unemployment. There 

10 Laver, Edwardian Promenade, pp. 4-5. 

The Age of Extravagance 39 

was no obvious connection between the misery of the masses and the 
demand for votes for women, but the suffragette activity, although it 
failed to achieve success before 1914, was symptomatic of the restless- 
ness of the age and the fading away of Victorian England. It is worth 
noting that at this time socialism made small appeal to Englishmen 
and that the drive for social reform came from Liberals and Radicals, 
not from the "Reds," as the Socialists might be called because they 
wore red neckties as the symbol of their faith. Two world wars were 
needed to give the Socialist party the mandate to create the England 
we know today. 

It remains to say something about life in Oxford, in the midst of 
plenty and sometimes of extravagance. Our sitting rooms were heated 
only by grate fires and the bedrooms not at all. Hot water for shaving 
and bathing was brought in tin cans. Food was simple and cheap, two 
shillings (50 cents) being the price for dinner in hall. You were 
supposed to keep yourself fit by playing games in the afternoon. I 
confess that I was not much interested in sports, except in the spring, 
when I played tennis. I got my "ekker" (exercise) by walking and 

The student body was drawn from the aristocracy and the upper 
middle classes. Scholarships were usually awarded for intellectual 
prowess rather than to meet financial needs. There were a few of the 
latter, but I do not recall any student who was working his way 
through the university. Many students were able to keep motor cars 
or horses and to entertain on a lavish scale. With few exceptions, the 
students rated as "gentlemen", and the contrast in manners, appear- 
ance and language between them and the shopkeepers of Oxford and 
the college servants was far greater than any social distinctions I had 
known in the United States. In recent years it has become fashionable 
to distinguish between U-speech and non-U, the language of the 
upper and lower classes respectively, and the distinction is real, not 
only in accent and pronunciation but also in vocabulary. On this 
point I may refer you to Noblesse oblige, edited by Nancy Mitford. 
Beyond a doubt, Oxford spoke U. 

Not over half the students were interested in getting real education, 
and these read the honor schools. The others, typical of the times, 
came to make friends, to enjoy themselves, and to qualify as school- 
masters, for which a pass degree was generally considered adequate. 
But we Rhodes Scholars took ourselves seriously, and the education I 

40 The Fashion and Future of History 

received in Oxford was of incalculable advantage to me. Incidentally, 
the Rhodes Scholarships were at the time the only scholarships which 
enabled young people of one country to study in another country; 
today, according to figures quoted several years ago by Senator Ful- 
bright, there are some 43,000 opportunities of this kind, taking in all 
the countries of the world. 

One's social life at Oxford was carried on mostly within one's own 
college, although of course one knew people in other colleges. In my 
college, Merton, there were about 100 students, a few of whom were 
in their fourth year. We entertained each other at breakfast, lunch, 
tea and coffee, doing this in our rooms, for only hall dinner was taken 
in common. I belonged to two college societies which met several 
times a term to read papers or plays. When I arrived, I did not smoke 
or drink, but I presently decided to do both and found that relations 
with my fellow students were easier. It came as a shock to observe the 
chaplain taking his glass of wine. 

Having attended a coeducational institution, I was accustomed to 
having women students present and to enjoying their company. At 
Oxford, male undergraduates left the women undergraduates severely 
alone. Young women appeared in Oxford from the outside at Torpids 
and Eights, the weeks of intercollegiate boat races in the winter and 
spring terms and at the balls given at the end of the summer term. It 
was highly dangerous to associate with the girls of the townspeople, 
for the disciplinary authorities of the university suspected the worst, 
and the penalty, if caught, was usually to be "sent down." For the 
ordinary student, his only contact with feminine society was calling 
on academic families in north Oxford on Sunday afternoon, for which 
one put on dark clothes, black shoes and a bowler hat. I may add that 
undergraduates were strictly forbidden to go to London in term time. 
Of course some did, and if they got back to Oxford after midnight, it 
was necessary to climb into college over high walls covered with spikes 
and glass. 

There were six deliveries of mail a day, and it was possible to write 
a letter to London after breakfast and get a reply on the last delivery 
at nine in the evening. 

This paper may well close with some quotations from a die-hard 
who looks back on Edwardian England with many regrets: 

" The world of Yesterday was a better world than that of 

today. We had few cares and anxieties. We were allowed to keep 

The Age of Extravagance 41 

nearly all the money we earned. We had beliefs and ideals and we 
cherished them. We believed that Home was a place to preserve and 
keep unsullied, that Marriage was a Sacrament and not an experi- 
ment. We believed in integrity and keeping our word We be- 
lieved in getting on, in making our way and in good workmanship. We 
also believed in work and we saw no harm in discipline. In fact, we 

were a strongly disciplined nation which disciplined itself We 

upheld the Conventions because they were only another name for 
Good Manners 

"We had leisure and we had plenty. We had Peace and Security. 
War did not touch us— but we could fight when put to it. We had a 
golden sovereign worth its full twenty shillings, and we led the 

world A little money went a long way. For those of us who 

carried the main weight of it on our shoulders, the Middle Classes, it 
was a very good world indeed. 

"I think the improvements we have experienced are much fewer 

than the happinesses we have lost We were the English, the 

British, and we lived in our own way— a decent way, a clean way, and 
all our own. It seemed that it must always endure 

"Those days cannot come again. Today we are poor, we are weak, 

we are not world leaders. We follow and we are debtors Today 

we live haphazard, not knowing what Tomorrow will bring forth. 
Science finds new ways of destruction— the old order changes, giving 
place to new. But those of us who lived in Yesterday know that it was 

better than Today what Tomorrow may bring nobody knows. 

Stability? Almost certainly not. Peace? Most unlikely. A contented 
world? Hardly a chance Give me Yesterday." 11 

I too am glad that I came to maturity before 1914 and remember 
that world so well. 

11 Pope, Give Me Yesterday, pp. 297-298. 

Out of Their Own Mouths 

'A paper, under the title "Interviewing the Authors of the War", read 
to the Chicago Literary Club in March 1930, an organization founded, 
in 1874 (like the Washington Literary Society, but limited to men 
and meeting forty times a year). At the time, the persons mentioned 
were still living, so the paper was printed privately and confidentially 
by the Club. All those interviewed are now deceased, there is no 
reason for keeping secret what they said, and the Club has graciously 
consented to the publication of the paper. The phrase "authors of the 
war" is a translation of the words used by the German government in 
the title of one of its official publications Deutsches Weissbuch iiber 
die Verantwortlichkeit der Urheber des Krieges. 

My first book, published in 1916, ivas a study of the origins of the 
war of 1914: England and Germany, 1740-1914, and this problem con- 
tinued to be my principal interest. After the conclusion of the war 
various governments began to publish documents from their secret 
archives, and almost every politician, diplomatist, and military per- 
sonage who had been involved in the great conflict published his 
version of what had happened. Many contradictions were to be noted, 
in these narratives, which was not surprising, especially as often they 
were written in exile or without benefit of documentary support. After 
I had read the memoirs and the documents, I decided that it might 
be worth while to talk personally with the several authors, and in 
1928 I succeeded in having interviews with quite a number of them. 
Being thoroughly familiar with the criticisms that had been made of 
each man, I asked him the most difficult questions I could think of. 
The paper indicates whether my probing was successful. Some men 
answered readily; some said that they had forgotten; some, I am sure, 
had really forgotten. I gathered some useful information and felt that 
the enterprise has been distinctly worth while; I am sure that my book 
The Coming of the War 1914 was better for it. 

It is worth noting that, thirty years after I wrote my paper and my 
book, many of the controversial questions which I discussed remain 
unsettled. In particular, there are still many mysteries about the 


44 The Fashion and Future of History 

murder of Sarajevo, for the government of Yugoslavia has never pub- 
lished whatever materials its archives may contain. 

My interviewing the men of 1914 was a purely personal undertak- 
ing. After the Second World War, the Allied governments made it 
their official business to have important men among their late enemies 
questioned at great length by competent persons, and the records of 
these interviews constitute an importance source for the history of 
the war. 

As though it were only yesterday, I remember sitting on the veranda 
of my old home in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Friday, July 24, 1914, 
and reading on an inside page of the morning paper a dispatch from 
Vienna summarizing the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia. My 
instant reaction, inspired by my studies of European diplomacy and 
Balkan politics for some years, was, "It is the great war at last." A 
second recollection is of Sunday, August 2. I was awakened prema- 
turely by the thud of the Sunday paper as it was thrown on the porch, 
and rushed down to get it. The first-page headline, in huge letters, 
read: "European War Is On!" Finally, on Tuesday evening, 4 August, 
I went into town to learn the latest news and read on the bulletins 1 
that Great Britain had, on account of the violation of Belgian neutral- 
ity, declared war on Germany. These incidents are indelibly en- 
graved on my memory. So you will no doubt appreciate my emotions 
when in the course of 1928 I was able to talk personally with many of 
the principal personages who in July 1914 had plunged the old world 
into war. 

The occasion for the great struggle was provided by the murder of 
the Archduke Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo on Sunday, June 28, 1914, 
by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian of Serbian race who had been outfitted 
with the necessary weapons in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. In its 
famous ultimatum the Austro-Hungarian government charged Serbia 
with the moral responsibility for the crime, on the ground that the 
Serbian government had for years encouraged among its own people 
and among the Serbian population of Bosnia-Herzegovina an agitation 

1 In 1914 radio broadcasting had not yet been imagined. 

Out of Their Own Mouths 45 

directed against the integrity of the Habsburg Monarchy. This could 
not in fact be denied. But what people wished to know was whether 
the Serbian government had been privy to or cognizant of the con- 
spiracy. No light was shed until 1924, when a prominent Serbian poli- 
tician, M. Lyuba Yovanovich, asserted that in fact the Serbian govern- 
ment, of which he was a member, had learned of the plot several 
weeks before its execution and had made unsuccessful efforts to stop 
it. Since then this allegation has been the theme of acrid controversy, 
which is not yet resolved. Unfortunately, when I attempted to make 
an investigation on the spot, both Yovanovich and his rival, Nikola K. 
Pashich, against whom he had brought the charge of knowing about 
the plot and who had denied it, were dead. So also was the 
person who is supposed to have sanctioned it, Colonel Dragutin 
Dimitriyevich, the chief of the intelligence section of the Serbian 
general staff in 1914. All I could do was to speak with friends of these 
three Serbs. From these gentlemen I learned much about the internal 
politics of Serbia before the war, but either they were not informed 
on, or else they would not speak precisely about, the question whether 
the Serbian government knew of the plot. 

1 was not more successful, and I had not expected to be, with the 
king, concerning whose connection with the conspirators numerous 
sensational stories have been told. King Alexander, 2 a vigorous, keen 
man of about forty, received me with great courtesy and talked 
readily about the problems of his country— this was six months before 
the proclamation of the dictatorship. But when I was bold enough to 
mention the name of Colonel Dimitriyevich, it was evident that I had 
touched a painful subject. His Majesty contented himself with saying 
that the colonel, who had been executed in 1917 for an alleged at- 
tempt to kill Alexander, had caused a great deal of trouble, and 
changed the subject. I had been told that the King was sometimes in- 
discreet and conceivably might say something; but I was disappointed. 
In general, my conversations with many Serbs left on me the impres- 
sion that the moral indignation of the western world over the 
assassination of the archduke was not, perhaps could not be, com- 
prehended by a nation which had lived for centuries under the Turkish 
yoke and had grown accustomed to violent methods as the only 
recourse against oppression. 

2 Assassinated at Marseilles in October, 1934. 

46 The Fashion and Future of History 

According to one intriguing version, the plot against Francis Fer- 
dinand was known to the Russian military attache in Belgrade, and 
its execution had been finally determined upon only after the Russian 
officer had given assurances that if, in consequence, Serbia found her- 
self at war with Austria-Hungary, she would not stand alone. As it 
happened, the attache, General V. I. Artamonov, was living in Bel- 
grade at the time of my visit, and it was not difficult to see him. Ad- 
mitting his close relationship with Colonel Dimitriyevich, to whom 
he had supplied money for the procuring of photographic apparatus 
to use in getting military information from Bosnia, he denied that he 
had been cognizant of the Sarajevo conspiracy or that, as had been 
alleged by one writer, he had informed Dimitriyevich of a supposed 
plan of William II and Francis Ferdinand to begin an Austrian war 
against Serbia at the first opportunity. He said that he had received 
no such intelligence and adduced letters to show that his substitute— 
for he himself had gone on leave in the middle of June— had made no 
communications to the Serbian general staff. General Artamonov did 
not look the part of a conspirator or an accomplice in murder, and I 
was disposed to believe that he was telling me the truth. 

But however doubtful it may be that Russia was aware of the 
Sarajevo plot, certainly the Austro-Serbian dispute would have re- 
mained localized had not Russia intervened to support Serbia. Of all 
the apologiae written by the actors of July 1914 that by Sergey Sazo- 
nov, the Russian foreign minister, is the least satisfactory, for it was 
composed in exile and without the aid of documents. It would, there- 
fore, have been for me an experience of the greatest value to talk 
personally with the Russian statesman. Unfortunately, M. Sazonov 
died just before I started on my tour of investigation. I was able, how- 
ever, to make the acquaintance of M. Peter Bark, the minister of 
finance in the Russian government, who is now a banker in London. 
M. Bark said frankly that after so many years, he had only a hazy 
recollection of details, and this proved to be the case. On one point, 
however, he was specific: the Russian cabinet had not been consulted 
about the general mobilization. That was an issue for the Tsar him- 
self, and Nicholas II had decided after consultation with individuals 
without reference to the council of ministers. This prerogative of the 
crown in matters pertaining to the army and the navy was not peculiar 
to Russia, but was exercised as well in Austria-Hungary and Germany, 
and for this reason it is correct to describe those three states as military 

Out of Their Own Mouths 47 

monarchies, in contrast with Great Britain and France, where such 
military decisions were taken by the civil government. 

I was also able to see, in Paris, Baron M. Shilling, who was Sazonov's 
chef de cabinet. Like Bark, Shilling declared that his recollections 
were no longer clear; and he referred me to the Diary which he had 
kept during the crisis and which was published some years ago by the 
Soviet government. I was thoroughly familiar with the Diary, but 
some of its entries are difficult to reconcile with contemporary docu- 
ments. When I pointed out some of these discrepancies, the baron 
replied that what he wrote down day by day was what was told him 
by his chief, Sazonov, or what he learned in the Russian foreign 
office. He admitted that Sazonov or other persons might have con- 
cealed things from him or that the information received in the foreign 
office might have been incorrect. But he insisted, and one could only 
agree with him, that his Diary described the situation as it was under- 
stood at the time, and that as a strictly contemporary document, it 
was to be valued far higher as a historical source than the post-war 
recollections of Russian generals and statesmen. Naturally, Baron 
Shilling asserted that Russia had not planned nor desired war; he 
emphasized the point that at the beginning of the crisis, M. Sazonov, 
recalling what had happened in the winter of 1912-13, had proceeded 
on the assumption that Germany would restrain her impetuous ally 
in Vienna. The Austrian declaration of war against Serbia, however, 
convinced him (Sazonov) that Germany not only stood behind Aus- 
tria-Hungary but actually herself desired and contemplated war: 
wherefore Russia had no alternative but to prepare for this eventual- 
ity as fully and as promptly as possible. Shilling also maintained the 
accuracy of the notation in his diary that the French ambassador, 
Maurice Paleologue, had given the most unqualified assurances that 
France would support her ally, an assurance given before the Austrian 
declaration of war had rendered the situation hopeless. 

There is no trace of any such incident in M. Paleologue's own 
memoirs. Consequently, I endeavored to see him. But it was midsum- 
mer, and the former ambassador left Paris on the very day that my 
letter of introduction reached him. What the French documents may 
have to reveal on this point, 3 when they are published, will be studied 
with particular attention. 

3 Published in 1937, the documents reveal nothing. 

48 The Fashion and Future of History 

Not seeing M. Paleologue was, however, more than compensated 
for by a long conversation with M. Raymond Poincare, who is repre- 
sented by German writers as being, with the late A. P. Izvolsky, 
former Russian ambassador in Paris, the principal author of the war. 
At the time of my visit M. Poincare was president of the council and 
minister of finances, so that he received in one of the pavilions in 
the Louvre instead of at the Quai d'Orsay. He is not an impressive 
person in appearance. Small, dressed without style— he was wearing 
the kind of cuff in vogue a generation ago— he looked, as someone has 
rather disrespectfully put it, more like an epicier than a great states- 
man. But the moment he began to speak, one was aware of a re- 
markable intelligence which commanded all the pertinent facts and 
reached conclusions intuitively and instantly. On all the minute points 
of the controversy concerning the responsibility for the war, he seemed 
as well informed as myself, and he answered my questions without 
hesitation or embarrassment. I will select three episodes. 

1. When the crisis broke in July 1914, M. Poincare was on a visit 
to the Tsar. As it happened, the British foreign secretary, Sir Edward 
Grey, had suggested that it might be desirable and possible for Russia 
and Austria-Hungary, the two Powers directly interested in Serbia, to 
hold conversations a deux, with the object of forestalling trouble be- 
tween them when Austria demanded satisfaction from Serbia for the 
Sarajevo murder. When this suggestion was conveyed to M. Poincare 
by the British ambassador in St. Petersburg, he had promptly rejected 
it as ''dangerous." Why?— many commentators have asked. Does this 
not show, it has been argued, that the French statesman secretly de- 
sired an Austro-Russian quarrel? I put the question to him directly. 
Not at all, he replied. Such a procedure would be dangerous, he 
thought, because Austria and Russia would be likely to take stiff 
attitudes at once, and the difficulty of mediation would be greatly 
increased. What he wished to do was to organize the concert of Europe, 
as he had successfully done in 1912, and try to keep the peace by the 
mediation of all the Powers. 

2. In the fourth volume of his memoirs, M. Poincare published a 
telegram sent from Paris to St. Petersburg on Thursday, July 30, 1914. 
As there given it asked the Russian government to refrain from either 
general or partial mobilization. But the telegram had already been 
published in the British Documents on the Origins of the War (for a 
copy had been sent to London) , and German writers had noticed that 

Out of Their Own Mouths 49 

the version given by M. Poincare was inaccurate: by omitting the 
words, "which would give Germany the pretext for," he had, so they 
claimed, tried to make it appear that he had advised Russia not to 
mobilize, whereas in fact he had merely urged her not to give Ger- 
many a pretext for such action. The omission of the six words had 
been explained as a printer's error. Without indicating that I was 
aware of this explanation, I simply stated that I had noted the in- 
correct version given in his book. M. Poincare repeated to me that 
the error was "une faute d' impression," which I had expected. But he 
went on to say that the subsequent pages of his narrative, in which 
he referred several times to the telegram, proved that he had not been 
guilty of deliberate editing, for what he had written made clear that 
he supposed he had quoted the telegram correctly in his first reference. 
This statement was true, as I had noted when reading his book. But, 
not content with that, he asserted that when the error had been dis- 
covered, he had taken pains to see that the correct text was printed in 
the English translation of his book; and with that, he opened a drawer 
of his desk, took out a copy of the English translation, and leafed 
through it till he found the passage in question, which he showed to 
me. Later in the day, he sent me an autographed copy of the English 

3. On the evening of Friday, July 31, the Swiss minister in Paris 
called at the Quai d'Orsay to say that he had learned that the Austro- 
Hungarian ambassador had confided to their Romanian colleague 
that if Serbia were to address herself to Austria-Hungary, either 
directly or through friendly powers, perhaps the cabinet of Vienna 
would be willing to indicate certain "additional demands" which it 
intended to put forward as the price of peace with Serbia. It had 
been charged that M. Poincare, in his eagerness for war, did not follow 
up this overture. He himself claimed in his memoirs that he had not 
heard of the incident until 1920. I pointed out to my host that the 
overture was mentioned in one of the documents in the French Yellow 
Book of 1914. The inconsistency did not faze M. Poincare in the 
least. Of course, he said, he had heard of the suggestion, which had 
been communicated to the French Government by the Austro-Hun- 
garian ambassador himself as a personal opinion: but he insisted that 
he had not known of the action of the Swiss minister, and a reference 
to his book would show that this was all he had said. 

Our conversation lasted an hour, and many other points were 

50 The Fashion and Future of History 

touched upon. As I rose to go, he asked me about Harry Elmer Barnes, 
who has been his chief critic in this country. Poincare expressed his 
indignation that Barnes had had what he called the bad taste to re- 
quest an interview with him. Fortunately, he said, he had another en- 
gagement at the time which Barnes had proposed, and there the mat- 
ter had ended. Altogether M. Poincare left the impression on me of a 
man absolutely convinced of the Tightness of his conduct and prepared 
to defend it unreservedly. 

The same thing could hardly be said of Sir Edward (now Viscount) 
Grey, the British secretary for foreign affairs. At any rate Lord Grey 
was prepared to discuss the hypothesis that he had made mistakes. 
Thus he spontaneously remarked that perhaps there was point to the 
criticism that during the July crisis he had tried to negotiate with 
Vienna through the medium of Berlin instead of turning directly to 
the Austro-Hungarian government. He had followed this course be- 
cause he assumed that Austria would and could not move without the 
approval of Germany and because these tactics had been eminently 
successful during the Balkan wars of 1912-13; but he said he under- 
stood that Count Berchtold had in fact been annoyed by his (Grey's) 

Of all my interviews that with Lord Grey was the most agreeable. 
The British statesman did not look his sixty-eight years, and although 
his eyesight is so poor that he does much reading in Braille, he gave 
the appearance of a man very vigorous physically and intellectually 
most alert. His handsome, clear-cut face, a rich voice, fine command of 
language, and perfect courtesy are perhaps only outward symbols of 
character. Yet one did not have to speak long with him to be aware 
that here was a deeply sensitive person devoted to the finer things of 
life, who hated war and the thought of it and was as likely to have 
worked for it as to have murdered his wife or sovereign. Grey was 
not, in my judgment, a diplomatist of the first water, for he under- 
stood little of the problems and peculiarities of other nations; but he 
was, I think, from the moment he assumed office entirely sincere in his 
efforts to adjust the differences of Great Britain with other countries 
and to preserve the peace of Europe. If he failed, it was assuredly not 
for lack of good will. 

On two points he was most emphatic. In the first place, he insisted 
that he could not have determined the attitude of Great Britain at an 
early stage of the crisis. If, he explained, he had proposed to announce 

Out of Their Own Mouths 51 

that Great Britain would remain neutral, as the German government 
desired and expected, one-half of the cabinet would have resigned. 
On the other hand, it was equally impossible to say that Great Britain 
would join in, as both Russian and French diplomacy urged, for then 
the other half would have resigned. He himself did not doubt that 
British interests required support of France, but he could not com- 
mit himself in advance, and I gathered that he thought such a course 
would have been unwise, for it would probably have aroused intense 
indignation in Germany and have aggravated rather than steadied the 

His second point was that Germany's refusal of a conference de- 
prived him of any lever for bringing pressure to bear in St. Petersburg. 
Russia considered its interests threatened by the Austrian action 
against Serbia: if he was to ask Russia to take no action to protect 
those interests, he must be able to hold out some hope of diplomatic 
compromise. This Germany had forestalled by the abrupt rejection of 
his proposal. 

I ventured to broach one delicate matter to him. On July 29 he gave 
his famous "warning" to Prince Lichnowsky to the effect that Germany 
must not count on Great Britain standing aside in all circumstances, 
a warning which had a devastating effect in Berlin. I asked Lord Grey 
why he had told the French ambassador of this warning. Would it not 
encourage France to believe that she could count on Great Britain? 
He replied, "No," for M. Cambon kept begging him for days for as- 
surances that Great Britain would come in: an argument fully justi- 
fied, I think, by the facts as we now know them. 

Grey's colleague, Lord Haldane, whom death removed before I 
could see him, used to say to my friend, G. P. Gooch, one of the editors 
of the British Documents on the Origins of the War, that Grey was 
not anti-German, but the foreign office was. There is a great deal of 
evidence in the British documents, in the form of departmental 
"minutes," to support this thesis. Consequently when I went to see 
Lord Carnock, who as Sir Arthur Nicolson had been the permanent 
under-secretary of the foreign office from 1910 to 1916, I expected to 
find what the Germans call a Deutschfresser.* He proved in fact to be 
a very mild gentleman with very little rancor toward the Germans. 
Indeed he went so far as to say that in his judgment Anglo-German 

4 This interview occurred some years earlier. 

52 The Fashion and Future of History 

rivalry, which seemed the dominant factor in pre-war politics, would 
not per se have led to war. He argued, and I believe that historians 
are coming more and more to agree, that the fons et origo malorum 
was the Austro-Russian antagonism in the Balkans. The friends and 
allies of the two Eastern empires could restrain them perhaps at a 
given moment, but in the long run they were bound to escape con- 
trol. The First World War, in short, was an Eastern war, not a 
Western one. 

Lord Oxford and Asquith also died before I had arranged to see 
him. Mr. Winston Churchill was so busy with making a budget that 
he begged off; nor did I see Mr. Lloyd George, though had I known 
then some things I later learned, I should have made an effort to 
talk with him. I learned much from long and intimate talks with 
the editors of the British Documents, who, I am convinced, know 
much more about British policy, from having read all the materials, 
than do Grey and the other statesmen who directed it during the 
pre-war years. 

But you are probably more interested in hearing what our former 
enemies had to say for themselves, and my experiences in Austria and 
Germany were in fact highly interesting. They began in Budapest, 
where I sought information about Count Tisza, who was Hungarian 
premier in 1914 and had been assassinated in October 1918 because 
he was held primarily responsible for the war. Actually, Tisza at the 
beginning of July 1914 had opposed making the murder of Sarajevo 
an excuse for war against Serbia, but later he changed his mind and 
sanctioned that course. Why? Various reasons have been suggested: 
personal indignation at the conduct of Serbia in not proceeding to an 
investigation of the crime and at the language of the Serbian press, 
the excitement of Hungarian public opinion, pressure from Germany, 
Tisza's love of office and his inability to dissuade Francis Joseph from 
the warlike policy. I spoke with a number of persons who had known 
Tisza, who had discussed this very problem with him, and from each 
I received a different explanation. Nevertheless, in spite of their ad- 
missions that Tisza could have prevented the war had he stood up for 
his original position, these same Hungarians contended that the war 
had been Austria's and not Hungary's war, and that Hungary had 
been most unfairly punished in the peace settlements. 

It is true, however, to say that the driving force for war had come 
from Vienna and not from Budapest. Foremost in the advocacy of 

Out of Their Own Mouths 53 

this policy had been the chief of the general staff, General Conrad 
von Hotzendorf, as his memoirs abundantly prove, and he died in the 
conviction that this had been the only possible policy. I was anxious 
to ascertain if the civil authorities also remained similarly convinced. 
The first of such persons whom I saw, Dr. Friedrich Ritter von Wies- 
ner, had not changed his opinion. Wiesner is rather a tragic figure. 
In July 1914, he was sent to Sarajevo by the Austro-Hungarian foreign 
office to report on the investigation being conducted there into the 
circumstances of the murder. He was expected to find, if possible, 
proofs of the complicity of the Serbian government. He had not found 
them, at least he had found no evidence that clearly established the 
point, and had so reported to Vienna. After the war his telegram was 
published. Furthermore, it seemed that, in spite of this telegram, the 
Austro-Hungarian government had gone ahead with its deliberate aim 
of seeking war with Serbia. Thus Herr von Wiesner' s position had not 
been an enviable one. In speaking with me, he said that his telegram 
had been misunderstood. Personally he was at the time, quite con- 
vinced, by the evidence secured at the investigation, of the moral 
culpability of the Serbian government for the Sarajevo crime, but as 
the evidence was not of the kind which a court of law would accept, 
he had been unwilling to have it used in the formal case against 
Serbia. He had, he said, made this clear on his return to Vienna, and 
the charge that the government had deliberately disregarded his ex- 
culpation of the Serbian government was, he argued, unjustified. 
Wiesner was the most bitter of all the people in either camp with 
whom I spoke. 

On the other hand, Count Alexander Hoyos, who was the chef de 
cabinet of Count Berchtold, took a rather philosophical view of the 
problem. Hoyos intrigued me more than any other figure. After the 
murder he had been sent to Berlin as the special emissary of the Aus- 
trian government, bearing documents the consideration of which took 
place at Potsdam on 5 July. On his return to Vienna, Hoyos made a 
report of his mission in the presence of Berchtold, Tisza, and the 
German ambassador in Vienna. According to the latter's account of 
the conference, Hoyos had read a memorandum, which appeared to be 
a document rather compromising for Germany. But it was not con- 
tained in either the German or Austrian collections published after 
the war. I was unusually keen, therefore, to see Hoyos and secure 
positive information about this document. To my disgust I was told 

54 The Fashion and Future of History 

in Vienna that he was in the country for the summer. At the sugges- 
tion of the American minister, whose personal friend he was, I rang 
him up on the long-distance telephone. In my best German I an- 
nounced myself as a professor in the University of Chicago and the 
bearer of a letter of introduction from his Excellency the American 
minister. Count Hoyos answered in perfect English. (I later learned 
that his mother was an English lady, Miss Whitehead, a member of 
the family which manufactured torpedoes for the Austro-Hungarian 
navy at Pola.) The count readily agreed to see me in the country and 
the next day I traveled to Schloss Schwertberg in the Danube Valley, 
where I spent a delightful afternoon with the Hoyos family Hoyos, 
I might add, is not a Magyar noble, as his name seemed to imply, but 
of Spanish descent, the family having come to Austria during the 
Thirty Years' War. 

When I mentioned the memorandum, Hoyos laughed. It had never 
existed! At the conference he had read from some hastily-made 
notes. He had intended to prepare a formal record of his conversa- 
tions in Berlin, but in the crowded days which followed, never did 
so, and ultimately his notes had been lost. So my brilliant hypothesis 
was exploded, and one had a new illustration of the danger of trying 
to reconstruct history solely from documents. Count Hoyos admitted, 
however, what I had deduced from other documents and what has 
been generally overlooked by most writers: that he had explained 
to the German government that Austria-Hungary desired war with 
Serbia and that Germany, in agreeing to support its ally, did not 
do so in ignorance of what was planned. The count also said that a 
mistake had been made when the Austro-Hungarian minister in 
Belgrade was instructed to break off diplomatic relations in case the 
Serbian reply did not follow the Austrian ultimatum word for word; 
and when I suggested that if Austria-Hungary, instead of rejecting the 
Serbian reply as unsatisfactory, had put Serbia to the test of living 
up to it, the Habsburg Monarchy would have taken an unassailable 
diplomatic position which the other Powers would have been com- 
pelled to support, Hoyos said that perhaps I was right. 

After my visit to Count Hoyos, I proceeded to Paris. While there 
I received a letter from a lady whom I had met in Budapest. She 
said that she had talked with her friend, Count Berchtold, about 
me, and the count had expressed a desire to meet me; indeed, if it 
would be convenient for me, he would be pleased to entertain me 

Out of Their Own Mouths 55 

at his castle in Moravia. As it happened, I was going to Berlin later 
in the summer, so I at once intimated that I should be happy to 
accept an invitation from Count Berchtold. The invitation was 
awaiting me when I reached Berlin. 

Buchlau, the seat of the Berchtold family, is extraordinarily in- 
teresting. There are two castles. One, built on a high hill eight 
hundred years ago, was never captured even in the palmiest days 
of feudal warfare, and has been uninterruptedly occupied by a 
Berchtold throughout the centuries. It is a veritable museum of 
costume and household goods actually possessed by the family and 
carefully preserved from generation to generation. Count Berchtold 
personally conducted me through the countless rooms and recited 
the history of each piece. I never spent a more interesting morning. 
The newer castle, now used as the residence of the main branch of 
the family, was built at the beginning of the eighteenth century by 
a famous Italian architect. The salon is a magnificent oval-shaped 
room two stories in height, with a gallery about half way up the 
sides, and overlooks a charming formal garden. On either side are 
the living quarters, and in the rear a handsome building once a 
stable but since the coming of the motor car converted into guest- 
rooms. Count Berchtold has allowed the servants' quarters to be 
fitted up with electric light, but in the dining-room candles are 
still used and elsewhere kerosene lamps— which fit very well with 
the exquisite eighteenth-century furniture and the long line of ances- 
tral portraits. Buchlau, I may remark, has long been famous for 
the meeting between Baron Aehrenthal and M. Izvolsky, Austrian and 
Russian foreign ministers respectively, in September, 1908, where 
they discussed the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the opening 
of the Straits. There has been endless controversy as to what was 
said. Count Berchtold gave me his version, as he had received it from 
each of his guests— but that is too long a story. He has placed a 
tablet on the wall of the room in which the conference took place. 

My host was as charming a gentleman as I ever met. Elegantly 
attired, lively of speech, full of art and literature and horse-breeding— 
which interested him far more than politics— wearing his sixty-five 
years with grace and ease, properly attentive to each of his dozen 
guests, to whom he spoke in German, French, Magyar, or English 
(he also knew Czech and Italian) , he made one feel welcome; and 
to me, a complete stranger to him, he was courtesy personified. Al- 

56 The Fashion and Future of History 

though I disagreed with many of his political views, I was warmly 
attracted by the man and understood his popularity in the elegant 
world of pre-war days. Nor should I fail to mention the Countess 
Berchtold, a gracious lady much interested in the poor children 
of Vienna, or the elder son, Count Louis, whom his father was 
thinking of sending to the United States to complete his education. 
The family estates in Czechoslovakia had been largely lost as a result 
of the agrarian reform in that country, but those in Hungary had 
been saved, so that there was still, so one had to conclude, an ample 
fortune for maintaining the old manner of life. It was interesting 
to learn that the Czechoslovak government had for some years been 
very suspicious of Count Berchtold and had refused to let him live at 
Buchlau. But he had so fully demonstrated his complete retirement 
from politics that in 1928 he was given permission to spend four 
months there. 

Off and on for two days, I discussed with Count Berchtold var- 
ious phases of his policy as Austro-Hungarian foreign minister. It 
was not always an easy task, for he was prone to go off on a tangent 
and a conversation which began with politics might end with archi- 
tecture. But I finally wrote out a little memorandum which I read 
to him and corrected in accordance with his suggestions. The docu- 
ment is too long to read here, so I state briefly only the essential 

1. Immediately after the murder at Sarajevo he would have liked 
to take military action against Serbia, without waiting for mobiliza- 
tion—a procedure blocked by the opposition of Hotzendorf on mili- 
tary grounds and by Count Tisza for political reasons. 

2. In the days following he was repeatedly urged to military 
action by Germany— of which, it may be remarked in passing, there is 
abundant documentary evidence. 

3. He had desired Serbia to accept the ultimatum. This statement 
I challenged, citing the remarks of the German ambassador in Vienna 
to the effect that the ultimatum had been so drafted as to make its 
acceptance out of the question; to which Count Berchtold replied 
that he had not read the German documents to which I referred! 
I did not believe that Berchtold was deliberately trying to deceive 
me: rather after so many years he had simply convinced himself 
that he had not deliberately provoked war with Serbia. 

4. He admitted that his plan had been to partition Serbia among 

Out of Their Own Mouths 57 

her neighbors, without, however, taking any part of her territory 
for Austria. 

5. He thought it a great pity that Sir Edward Grey had made his 
successive proposals for mediation to Berlin instead of at Vienna. He 
himself, he contended, had accepted the German view that Great 
Britain would keep out of the war, and he was the more inclined to 
believe this because the British ambassador in Vienna, who was 
personally sympathetic with Austria, was not instructed by Grey to 
make representations which would have caused him (Berchtold) to 
take another view of British policy. Personally, I doubt if the situation 
in 1914 was what Berchtold described it to be in 1928; but there 
may be something in his argument. 

6. He insisted that he had accepted Grey's final proposal of me- 
diation, which had been overtaken by the Russian mobilization. What 
the contemporary documents show is that Berchtold sent a note to 
London accepting British mediation on paper, but he attached 
to it conditions which would render that mediation illusory: for the 
Austrian advance against Serbia was to continue and Russia was to 
stop all her military preparations. 

Count Berchtold expressed to me his lively desire to meet Sir 
Edward Grey, and said that he had intended to invite his great an- 
tagonist, M. Sazonov, to visit him; but unfortunately the latter had 
died. In my room I discovered a copy of the memoirs of Prince Lich- 
nowsky, the German ambassador in London, with many highly inter- 
esting annotations by Berchtold. He told me that he was writing 
his memoirs— when he had nothing else to do! Recently their com- 
pletion has been announced, and they promise to offer instructive 
reading. 5 Unlike his subordinate, Count Hoyos, Count Berchtold 
could not appreciate the objections raised elsewhere to his policy; 
he embodied in his person the essence of the Habsburg Monarchy 
which went blindly to its doom. 

Turning at last to my adventures among the Germans, I may say 
that although I spoke with very many scholars and propagandists, I 
was less successful in seeing the men of 1914 than I had hoped. 
Thus I was not able to meet Herr von Jagow, the foreign minister 
of 1914, Dr. Zimmermann, the under-secretary, or Admiral von 
Tirpitz. In part, this was due to the fact that I reached Berlin in 

5 They have never been published. 

58 The Fashion and Future of History 

midsummer, and I was told that these gentlemen were away on their 
holidays. In the case of Herr von Jagow, however, I have some reason 
for suspecting that he was unwilling to talk with me, for I had pub- 
lished in Current History a sharp reply to an article by himself, in 
which article I had, in polite language, accused him of lying; so 
that I was really not surprised when he evaded an interview. I 
suppose I was as indiscreet as Mr. Barnes! 

But one very interesting conversation I did have— with General 
von Haeften, who in 1914 had been the adjutant of General von 
Moltke, the chief of the general staff. Most writers have condemned 
Moltke for his effort to bring about an early German mobilization, in 
opposition to the policy of the chancellor, Bethmann Hollweg, who 
wished to delay that step in order to saddle Russia with respon- 
sibility for the war. Haeften denied that the chief of staff favored 
a preventive war and had tried to bring it about. But he (Haeften) 
became excited and overeloquent, and said, I fancy, rather more 
than he realized. For he practically admitted that Moltke believed 
a general war unavoidable and therefore demanded the military 
measures which the political situation required. What I could not 
ascertain was whether Moltke had, as is usually charged, gone behind 
the back of Bethmann in inciting the Austrians to action and refusal 
of the British proposals of mediation. The statement which interested 
me most was that Moltke was quite terror-stricken on learning that 
England was coming into the war, raising his hands toward heaven 
and exclaiming, "England will attack us, England will attack us!" 
The point of the story is that while Moltke, according to the avail- 
able evidence, expected England to take the side of France, he 
did not believe that it would be able to make up its mind prompt- 
ly and would arrive on the scene of action too late, that is, not 
until the German armies sweeping through Belgium had rolled up 
their adversaries and rendered France hors de combat. Throughout 
our conversation General von Haeften denounced the incompetent 
Bethmann Hollweg in vigorous language, and I must confess to con- 
siderable sympathy with his point of view. 

While in Berlin I was the guest of honor at a luncheon given by 
one of the numerous societies interested in relieving Germany of 
responsibility for the war. In a brief speech, I remarked that I 
was making the rounds of the different countries involved in the 
war, and stated that I had seen Grey, Poincare, etc. After the 

Out of Their Own Mouths 59 

luncheon, a former general asked if I was going to visit the Kaiser, 
I replied that I did not have the entree to His Majesty. The general, 
who, I learned later, is a personal friend of the fallen monarch, said 
that he could arrange it, and took my address. About three weeks 
later I received, in London, a letter from the Hofmarschall at 
Haus Doom, saying that His Majesty would be pleased to receive 
me and that if I would telegraph the hour of my arrival at Utrecht, 
the nearest station, "ein kaiserliches Auto" would be sent to fetch 
me to Haus Doom. So on Tuesday, August 28, 1928, I arrived at 
Utrecht, and there, sure enough, I found a handsome gray limousine 
awaiting me. It bore no coat of arms and the chauffeur did not wear 
livery; a quiet turn-out such as any successful American might main- 
tain. A half-hour's drive brought us to the porter's lodge of Haus 
Doom. This is a new structure built by the exile to house the 
officials of his tiny court and his guests, who are seemingly rather 
numerous. Only the presence of a Dutch policeman suggested that 
it was not the property of a private person. I was ushered into a 
suite of rooms decorated with paintings, photographs, and other 
memorials of the old regime, and was served the usual Dutch break- 
fast. After an hour the adjutant on duty appeared, in plus fours, to 
notify me of the arrangements for the day. I would be received by 
the Empress at eleven and by the Emperor at noon, after which 
luncheon would be served, and for the rest, whatever circumstance 
might suggest; I was asked to wear a dark suit. 

Shortly before eleven the house doctor came to escort me to 
the imperial residence, which is a house of fourteen rooms built 
something more than a century ago by a prosperous merchant. Since 
the Empress's five children have to be accommodated, the house 
is none too large; it impressed me as being more comfortable than 
the palaces inhabited in the days of power. The fittings were ele- 
gant, most of them brought from Germany, but in keeping with an 
unpretentious establishment. The servants wore dark blue uniforms, 
and there were no guards about. 

The Empress— as she is called, though she has no right to the 
title— received me in her sitting-room. She is rather a plump woman, 
motherly and devoted to her present husband. She talked first of 
Woodrow Wilson, toward whom she seemed to feel rather bitter and 
about whom she believed the scandals which were once current. She 
then denounced the Dawes Plan which, she insisted, was driving 

60 The Fashion and Future of History 

Germany toward Bolshevism and ruin. Finally she came to speak of 
the Emperor. She explained that he kept himself from growing morose 
and despondent by omnivorous reading and that, in talking with him, 
I should find him prone to discourse on many topics. But since I had 
come to speak of particular things, I should not hesitate to inter- 
rupt and bring him back to what I wished to know. By this time an 
hour had passed, and the servant entered to say that His Majesty 
was now ready to see me. So I withdrew, descended to the ground 
floor, and was taken into the Emperor's study by the adjutant. 

It was hard to believe that I was about to face the person who 
has probably been the most excoriated man of our time. But before 
I could give myself over to meditation, the door opened and in 
walked William II of Hohenzollern, once German Emperor and 
King of Prussia. Dressed in a gray suit with a pink tie adorned with 
a pin of the Prussian order pour le Merite, brown shoes, white spats, 
and a straw hat, his eyes flashed as he came forward with outstretched 
hand to say, "How do you do, professor? I am very glad to see 
you." I bowed slightly, and he invited me to be seated. Then, "What 
can I do for you?" I explained that I was investigating the origins 
of the war and had talked with many of the survivors of 1914. 

"Well," he said, "the answer is very simple. Cecil Rhodes made 
the war." Whereupon he descanted for a quarter of an hour on the 
iniquity of Rhodes, who as far back as 1895— the time of the Jameson 
raid— had planned to destroy Germany, because Germany stood in 
the way of his African ambitions. Whether His Majesty knew that 
I had been a Rhodes Scholar did not come out. He declared that 
Edward VII (his own uncle) and Edward Grey were merely the 
instruments of Rhodes, and when I remarked that most German 
writers were now disposed to absolve England of deliberately plotting 
the war and laid the blame on Poincare and Izvolsky, he waived 
these suggestions airily aside and repeated his original proposition. 
He seemed also to attach credence to the tale circulated years ago 
by R. G. Usher of an Anglo-Franco-American alliance directed against 
Germany; to prove this he produced a sensational pamphlet by an 
American woman whose name I have forgotten. To these astonishing 
theories I really had no answer. But when I remembered that 
several years ago, in speaking with another American, he was said 
to have laid the blame for the war on the Jews, I realized that 
William II possessed the capacity to believe at any moment what 

Out of Their Own Mouths 61 

pleased or suited him, that he was a highly emotional personality 
whose reflexes could not be gauged by ordinary standards, and that 
I was not likely to secure from him any positive or satisfactory infor- 
mation. I also appreciated that he must have been an exceedingly 
difficult problem for his ministers and advisers, who, it is well 
known, were sometimes greatly inconvenienced by his sudden actions 
and consequently did not scruple to conceal from him information 
the effect of which on him might be disconcerting. Later His Ma- 
jesty essayed to prove that the Russians had been secretly mobil- 
izing for months before the July crisis and that the British army 
had secret stores of supplies in Belgium. But I should add that 
there was no bitterness in what he said. Finally, he presented me 
with an autographed picture, on which is written: "Nothing is too 
improbable to be true. Every once in a while all the circumstantial 
evidence in the world seems to get mobilized to down an inno- 
cent man." I supposed then that the inscription was his own com- 
position, but I have since learned that it is taken from a book 
by the late C. E. Montague. 

It was now one o'clock, and luncheon was announced. The com- 
pany was assembled when the Emperor and myself came out of his 
study— about twenty persons in all. The Empress and her five chil- 
dren, a couple of tutors, the court officials— that is, the marshal, 
the adjutant, and the doctor— three generals of the old army who 
had come to present His Majesty with a silver cup from members 
of the regiment in which he had performed his first military service, 
and two or three others whom I can no longer identify. All were 
somewhat dressed up, the generals in morning coats to which they 
did not seem accustomed. The Emperor made the round of the 
company and presented me to each, after which we went to table. 
The two royalties sat at the center of a long table facing each other; 
one general was on the Emperor's right, myself on his left, and he 
conversed alternately with us. The glassware bore the monogram 
of Frederick II and dated from his time, so the Emperor said. The 
meal was simple: soup, main course, dessert, followed by coffee in 
the Emperor's study. There seemed to be no constraint, and I had 
ample time to observe two large portraits of William and Hermine at 
either end of the dining-room. The Emperor's portrait was evidently 
made at Doom, for he is represented with the Van Dyck beard 
he has affected since the war; none the less, he is painted in the 

62 The Fashion and Future of History 

full uniform of a field-marshal of the German army. I may say that 
this was the only visible sign of unrepentance anywhere about the 
place. As we were taking our coffee, the Emperor came up to me 
and asked if I would care to walk with him in the late afternoon, to 
which, as they say in the House of Commons, the answer was in the 

Before this little expedition, the Emperor's doctor took me over 
the estate, which consists of only twenty-two acres, and talked about 
his patient, if one may so describe a man of nearly seventy whose 
health was obviously excellent. By dint of wood-sawing and work 
in his garden, His Majesty has really kept himself quite fit, and by 
entertaining a constant stream of guests avoided being utterly 
bored. There are no legal restrictions on his movement, and he 
does a certain amount of motoring; but, said the doctor, in order not 
to arouse excitement, he does not often visit the larger towns and 
avoids going toward the German frontier. The marshal, the doctor, 
and the adjutant are all friends of the old days; they change every 
few months, so that the exile need not have to see the same faces 
for too long a period. The settlement with the Prussian government 
has left the Emperor in comfortable financial circumstances, though 
for a while just after the war there was a real shortage of cash. But 
when all was said, one could not doubt that life at Haus Doom 
was rather dull, and that the punishment thus meted out to William II 
was far more effective than anything which the Allied and Associated 
Powers might have decreed if they had succeeded in bringing him 
to trial "for a supreme offence against international morality and 
the sanctity of treaties," as they were pleased to express it in Article 
227 of the Treaty of Versailles. 

At 5:30 P.M. I joined the Emperor again for our walk. He 
showed me the beautiful rose garden which he has presented to the 
town of Doom, and then we strolled along some country lanes. 
Passers-by saluted him respectfully, and their greetings were scru- 
pulously returned. I endeavored to interrogate His Majesty about the 
war. I addressed him simply as "You"— the days of "Your Majesty" 
were over. He said he had been most unwilling to go to Norway, but 
that the chancellor had insisted, fearing to disturb the European 
bourses. As to the famous conferences at Potsdam, he declared that he 
had understood that "the Austrians intended to give the Serbs a good 
hiding," and that they would do so promptly; but I could not pin 

Out of Their Own Mouths 63 

him down to a more exact statement. And when I tried to speak of 
mobilization and the details of the July crisis, he referred me to his 
books, copies of which he had sent around to my room. So I came to 
the conclusion that I was not likely to get much information from 
him, partly because he could not remember specific points, partly 
because he had formed his own picture of events. I therefore let him 
talk his own line. 

He proceeded to talk with great animation about the politics of the 
moment— Russia, China, the League of Nations, and his own beloved 
Germany. In his opinion, there was no prospect of overthrowing the 
Bolshevist regime by force, and the situation would have to work 
itself out. As for China, he was greatly pleased by the American 
treaty just negotiated, 6 which had put a spoke in the wheel of 
the British, whom he dislikes as much as ever. For the League of 
Nations, he showed a rather amused contempt. But most of his talk 
had to do with Germany. The Germans, he argued, are not a western 
but an eastern people: that is to say, they require an autocracy 
or a dictatorship. The present rulers were all reds, or at least pinks, 
and were ruining the country, driving it steadily toward Bolshevism. 
I ventured to ask if he did not think that Dr. Stresemann had been 
conspicuously successful in the conduct of German foreign policy. 
"Stresemann," he exclaimed, "Stresemann! He's the greatest scoundrel 
unhung!" In his opinion, the time would come when the United 
States would appreciate the help of Germany against great Britain, 
and if he were back in Berlin, he would see to it that this support 
was given. We would yet regret the day when we insisted on his 
abdication. For, he said, shaking his fist in my face, "You— meaning 
the United States— are responsible for my being here, and it is your 
duty to see that justice is done." To which there was nothing I 
could say. 

The Emperor speaks excellent English, with a keen appreciation 
of idiom, and his language is always vigorous, not to say picturesque. 
In spite of everything, I could understand how it was that for 
thirty years he captivated all who knew him. Convinced as he 
is of the Tightness of his course and conduct, he will go to his 
grave thoroughly unable to understand why, after long years of 

6 Treaty of July 25, 1928, by which China acquired, so far as the United States 
was concerned, complete national tariff autonomy. 

64 The Fashion and Future of History 

hate, he has been repudiated by his own people and forgotten by 
the rest of the world. 

The hour drew near for my departure. His Majesty graciously 
accompanied me to the lodge, where the gray limousine was waiting. 
My bags had already been loaded. The Emperor asked for my ad- 
dress, so that he might send me any subsequent writings of his about 
the war, and I gave the adjutant my card. The Emperor himself 
opened the door. I took my seat. The great car got slowly under 
way, and as it rolled under the gateway, I beheld William II, hat 
in hand, bowing low to a citizen of the country which he had 
declared was chiefly responsible for his presence there that day. 7 

1 1 sent the former Emperor a copy of my book. He was reported to have said 
that "of all the books written about the origins of the war, that by Bernadotte 
Schmitt was certainly the worst". 

Modern European History in the United States 

A paper read at the Sixth International Congress of Historical 
Studies, Oslo, in August 1928. In the thirty -two years since Oslo 
American interest in the history of Europe has increased enormously, 
and particularly since the close of the Second World War. The 
number of books published in recent years is so large that it would 
be invidious to single out only a few for mention. In my own studies, 
I have been pleased to note how often American books on European 
history are cited by European historians. 

For American historians, the principal difficulty at the present 
time is to cope with the languages of eastern and southeastern Europe. 
It is most important for American scholars to read the historical 
works put out under Soviet auspices. If those which I have been 
able to read in translation (alas! I do not know Russian) are charac- 
teristic of Soviet historiography, I fear that there is little common 
ground between Russian historians and those of the west. 

JN inety percent of the population of the United States is of 
European extraction. A considerable proportion has landed on 
our shores within the last fifty years, and a still larger number is 
but a single generation removed from European traditions and en- 
vironment. Moreover, in order to preserve some kind of connection 
with their European homelands, many groups within the American 
people maintain newspapers in their native languages, create singing 
and social organisations for the observance of Old-World customs 
which are dear to them, and in a variety of ways endeavor, while 
submitting cheerfully to the process of Americanisation, to retain 
something of the individuality characteristic of the nations of Europe. 
One would expect, therefore, the history of Europe to make a wide 
appeal to Americans, and it does so. At any rate the historian is 
favorably impressed by the wide range and the quite passable quality 
of books of history which are offered for sale in any good bookshop. 
Nevertheless, it is easy to exaggerate, and the real fact appears to be 


66 The Fashion and Future of History 

that until rather recently the American people were not greatly 
interested in the history of Europe. 

This state of mind was quite intelligible. In spite of our Euro- 
pean origin, the past was of less interest to us than the present 
and the future. We had a huge country to develop, and that task 
absorbed both our energy and our enthusiasm. Only slowly did 
there arise a cultivated and leisured class with time or inclination 
to be curious about its European origins. If history made any appeal 
to the American people, it was its own history, of which we were 
very proud; to many, in fact, Europe was something to forget. The 
result of this state of things was that until comparatively recently 
historical studies in the United States were very little concerned with 
Europe and that only a few works by American writers commanded 
recognition in Europe. Prescott, the historian of Spain, Motley, of 
the Netherlands, Lea, of the Inquisition, and Mahan, of sea power, 
proved that Americans could write European history, but they and 
a few lesser lights did not make a very impressive list. 

Yet another circumstance must be mentioned. Precisely because 
so many Americans were recently arrived from Europe, it was deemed 
imperative, for obvious political and national reasons, to emphasise 
the teaching of American history in the public schools. The new- 
comers themselves were anxious to be instructed, and European 
history was accordingly discounted or belittled. Not that European 
history was not taught, for it was; but, as I well remember from 
my boyhood days and as I am sure my contemporaries will agree, 
the books used were not interesting and the teaching was often 

Within the last generation a tremendous change has come about 
which gives great encouragement to the cause of European history 
in the United States. In the first place, the general interest in history 
has steadily expanded, as I am quite ready to testify after twenty 
years' teaching and observation. This is not to be explained merely 
by the fact that there is now a large and ever-growing class in 
America which has time and taste for intellectual interests. There 
are particular reasons why history is coming into its own. For one 
thing, the immigration of millions of people from all parts of 
Europe and the necessity of fitting them into the American scheme has 
compelled a certain attention to the background of these immigrants. 
Why did they leave Europe? What did they bring with them? 

Modern European History in the United States 67 

These and other questions could be answered only by reference to 
the history of these people, and to their history we have gone. Not 
all the researches have been made by professional historians; indeed 
the work has been chiefly by economists, sociologists, and students 
of government, but much of what they have written has been history. 
Another factor has been the ever-increasing habit of Americans to 
travel in Europe. No doubt a fair proportion of these travellers go 
to amuse themselves, but the great majority are serious-minded, and 
to some extent they try to equip themselves before starting by learn- 
ing something of the countries they intend to visit. I myself am often 
asked by prospective tourists to recommend books of history. 

But most important of all has been the shock of the Great War. 
Europeans, unless they have visited the United States, cannot appre- 
ciate either the feeling of incredulity with which the American people 
greeted the events of July 1914 or the extent to which they were 
ignorant of the issues involved. The process of education, however, 
was not long in beginning. Those authors who were fortunate enough 
to have written readable books on European history began suddenly 
to enjoy large royalties, and many new books were offered to an eager 
public. It would be easy to draw up a quite respectable list of books 
written by Americans dealing with the various belligerent countries 
and the historical backgrounds of the struggle. The interest thus 
aroused has not nagged since. One English historian told me recently 
that more of his books were sold in the United States than in his own 
country. My own conviction is that if historians, whether American 
or European, will write interesting and attractive books on European 
history, the American public will buy and read them. At the moment 
historical biography is very much in vogue, and there is no reason 
why straightforward history, if attractively presented, should not be- 
come equally popular. 

Another cause for satisfaction is that the teaching of European 
history has improved enormously of recent years. So far as the primary 
and secondary schools are concerned, this is due in large measure 
to the American Historical Association. That body, whose founda- 
tion in 1884 marked a turning-point in the development of American 
historical studies, has devoted much time and energy to the problem 
of teaching history, and numerous committees, whose work has 
extended over many years, have pointed out in a series of reports, 
what should be the content and the method of the history curriculum. 

68 The Fashion and Future of History 

On the whole, the educational authorities of the country have been 
not unwilling to follow the advice of the historical experts. Thanks 
to this co-operation, the textbooks of European history used in the 
schools provide our young boys and girls with a sympathetic and 
intelligent view of the Old World which was quite lacking in the 
books which I had to study; moreover, the very fact that our popu- 
lation is an amalgam of all the races of Europe compels authors to 
deal fairly with the several nations of Europe, that is, if they wish 
to sell their books to school authorities! 

But even good textbooks do not do away with the necessity of good 
teaching. On this score also much progress can be observed. It used 
too often to be the custom to give over the teaching of history to 
the least-occupied members of the staff, the theory being that history 
was a matter of kings and battles and dates and that no special prep- 
aration was necessary for imparting this information to young minds. 
Well, the custom has not entirely died out in small communities, 
but generally speaking, our high schools, which correspond roughly 
to European lycees or gymnasien, entrust the teaching of history to 
persons who have made some study of history. So well recognized 
is this principle that numerous societies of teachers of history exist 
in various parts of the country. 

It cannot be said that in our high schools excessive attention is 
paid to the history of the United States. The four-year course is usu- 
ally arranged as follows: in the first year, ancient and medieval 
history; in the second, modern history; in the third, English history; 
in the fourth, American history. Thus modern European history 
fares very well. Of late years, chiefly as a result of the interest aroused 
by the Great War in the recent history of Europe, the tendency 
can be observed to include the Renaissance and the Reformation in 
the work of the first year, and to let modern history begin with the 
Age of Louis XIV, in order to gain time for studying the last fifty 
years. Occasionally the complaint is heard that too much attention 
is devoted to the nations of western Europe and that eastern Europe, 
from which so many of our recent immigrants have come, is neglected. 

Sometimes ambitious politicians propose that a certain kind of 
patriotic history shall be taught. Fortunately little attention is paid to 
such vaporings, and by and large the modern history taught in our 
schools is history and not politics or propaganda. 

If from the secondary schools one turns to the colleges and uni- 

Modern European History in the United States 69 

versities of the United States, one is again struck by the preponder- 
ance of attention given to the history of Europe. The introductory 
course, which is often a prerequisite for more advanced work, usually 
deals with medieval and modern history, not with American history, 
and the emphasis is upon the modern end. Among the advanced 
courses the most popular are almost invariably those relating to the 
French Revolution, the history of Europe since Waterloo, and pre-war 
diplomacy. The expansion of Europe is also a much-studied subject. 
In the large universities, the history of separate countries— France, 
England, Germany, etc., 1 is often presented, and of recent years 
the question of the Near East has been taken up in a number of in- 
stitutions. Perhaps the clearest indication of interest is the fact 
that there is a greater demand for teachers of modern European 
history than of any other branch. 

To provide these teachers of history is the function of our graduate 
schools, and our universities from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific, 
are doing their best to discharge it. There are at least twenty insti- 
tutions of learning which offer advanced instruction in history, 
using the most modern methods of research and the seminar. Even 
so, they find it difficult to meet the demands made upon them, for 
more and more teachers in secondary schools are being required 
to pursue advanced studies as a condition to promotion, and partic- 
ularly in summer are the graduate schools of history overwhelmed 
by the number of would-be apprentices of Clio. If not all these 
aspirants measure up to an exacting standard, nevertheless the gen- 
eral result is worth while, for at least some are stimulated to make 
the study of history a life work. Only a few of the very largest 
universities are able to provide instruction in all fields of European 
history, but it can be safely said that in some university or other, 
one can study any branch of European history under the direction of 
a highly-trained specialist. I do not wish to be indelicate, but I may 
say that the universities of the United States offer more facilities 
for the study of European history than European universities do for 
the study of American history. 

So far, I have been speaking of the study of modern European 
history in the United States. When I turn to the other aspect of 

l Since the Second World War, increasing attention has been paid to the history 
of Russia. 

70 The Fashion and Future of History 

this paper, the writing of history, the picture is perhaps less satis- 
factory. It must be confessed that we Americans do not contribute, 
certainly not so much as we should like, perhaps not so much as 
we should, to contemporary historical literature. There appear to be 
three main reasons for this. First of all, most of our historians are 
teachers in the colleges and universities to a greater degree than is 
the case in Europe, and in our educational institutions more time 
has to be given to teaching and to administrative duties than in 
European universities. Furthemore, the academic year is longer. The 
consequence is that our historians, by and large, have little leisure 
for the slow business of research. It is not always possible for them 
to reserve even the summer holidays for study, for many of them 
feel the necessity of earning extra money by teaching in the summer 
sessions which practically all large universities now maintain. But 
the average American historian is not lacking in the will to con- 
tribute to historical knowledge, and most of them, in spite of the 
handicap of too much teaching, manage to keep some kind of re- 
search, if only a modest one, on the stocks and to publish an article 
from time to time. 

A second, and more fundamental, difficulty arises from the lack 
of materials, that is, the documents and other sources from which 
history is written. It is true that in our large universities one will 
find practically all the printed collections in the chief languages of 
western Europe, and a few of the largest also possess the sources for 
the history of eastern Europe. The files of historical periodicals are 
likewise fairly complete. But the colleges and the smaller insti- 
tutions do not have the money to buy expensive series, and are 
fortunate if they can procure an adequate collection of secondary 
books and a few of the more important sources. Thus, unless a 
scholar is a member of a large university or lives in close proximity 
to one, he finds it difficult and frequently impossible to surround 
himself with the documents and books of reference and other tools 
necessary for a sustained piece of research; many an ambitious young 
student, placed by circumstance far away from libraries and fellow- 
historians, has been unable to write the book of his desire, and some 
succumb to discouragement and do not even keep their hand in by 
writing articles. 

In this connection it may be noted that naturally few manuscript 
materials of European history are available in the United States. 

Modern European History in the United States 71 

Occasionally a great collection of private papers crosses the Atlantic, 
such as the Shelburne Papers, which have been acquired by the 
University of Michigan; but such instances are rare, and American 
opinion does not unanimously approve of the transfer of such 
precious records from their native country. Now I do not wish to 
suggest that all possible subjects of investigation in printed materials 
have been exhausted; the annual production of doctor's dissertations 
amply proves the contrary. But the prospect of using unpublished 
materials is always a strong inducement to a historian, and in this 
respect our European colleagues have the distinct advantage of us. 
The number of Americans who have made use of European archives 
is considerable, and is increasing; but a visit to Europe is a costly 
enterprise, at least for a student dependent upon his academic in- 
come. 2 So we shall for the most part have to be content with what 
the printed sources offer us. 

A third reason for American backwardness is the matter of lan- 
guage. Our scholars learn French and German as a matter of course, 
and many add Italian or Spanish. But very few of us have any 
acquaintance with the Slavonic languages, which is most unfortunate, 
because the history of eastern Europe offers unlimited opportunities 
for investigation and presents the kind of problems which naturally 
appeal to Americans. It may also be noted that the knowledge of 
Latin is on the decline in the United States, and the state of Greek 
is even worse. Thus the field open to most American researchers 
is the history of the western nations, the field which has been most 
assiduously cultivated for decades and which does not make easy 
the finding of an uncultivated patch. 

Nevertheless, in spite of these handicaps, American writers have 
in recent years made contributions to the modern history of Europe. 
Not to make too long a list, I shall mention only certain books 
published since the close of the Great War. The strong appeal which 
English history, for obvious reasons, has always made to us, still 
continues. So we note Conyers Read's Mr. Secretary Walsingham and 

2 This is not so true in 1960 as it was in 1928. The Fulbright Fellowships, 
and grants-in-aid from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social 
Science Research Council and the American Philosophical Society (to mention 
only the most notable sources of funds) now make it possible for American 
scholars to visit European archives fairly easily, and there is now a steady 
stream of historical works based on extensive research in foreign archives. 

72 The Fashion and Future of History 

the Policy of Queen Elizabeth, P. V. B. Jones' The Household of 
a Tudor Nobleman, E. P. Cheyney's History of England from 1588 
to 1603, Wallace Notestein's publication of the diaries of Stuart 
parliaments, and the first two volumes of E. R. Turner's The Privy 
Council. For the eighteenth century, there is A. H. Basye's The 
Board of Trade and Plantations, only the latest in a long series of 
books and monographs by American historians which have greatly 
extended the knowledge and revolutioned the conception of the 
British colonial system before the American Revolution. F. J. Kling- 
berg's Abolition of the Slave Trade and Paul Knaplund's Gladstone's 
Imperial Policy throw light on the working of that system in the 
nineteenth century; while L. H. Jenks' The Investment of British 
Capital Abroad provides exact historical information on a rather 
elusive subject. Miss Violet Barbour's biographies of late Stuart 
statesmen and Miss Frances Gillespie's The Rise of the English 
Working Classes indicate that women as well as men make good 

In the field of continental history, quite a little has been done 
with economic problems. Witness F. C. Palm's The Economic Policies 
of Richelieu, F. L. Nussbaum's Commercial Policy in the French 
Revolution, F. C. Melvin's The Continental System of Napoleon, 
W. F. Galpin's The Grain Trade of England during the Napoleonic 
Wars, and C. E. Hill's History of the Danish Sound Dues. But other 
interests are represented by Preserved Smith's Life of Erasmus, 
Albert Hyma's The Brethren of the Common Life, F. W. Albion's 
Forests and Sea Power, L. R. Gottschalk's Jean Paul Marat, and E. 
D. Adams' Great Britain and the United States during the American 
Civil War. In spite of our intense interest in social and economic 
history, we do try to keep it in its proper perspective. 

An aspect of modern history which greatly interests American his- 
torians is the question of pre-war diplomacy and the problem of re- 
sponsibility. R. H. Lord's The Origins of the War of 1870, which 
made use of and published documents from the Prussian archives, 
and J. V. Fuller's Bismarck's Diplomacy at its Zenith, which was the 
first book to make use of Die Grosse Politik der Europaischen 
Kabinette, have been much discussed. E. M. Earle's Turkey, the Great 
Powers and the Bagdad Railway is the fullest account yet written 
of that enterprise which loomed so large in Near Eastern politics; 
another problem of that area is treated in Miss Edith Stickney's 

Modern European History in the United States 73 

Southern Albania in European Affairs 1913-1923. Both of these books 
were awarded the George Louis Beer Prize offered annually by the 
American Historical Association for the best monograph dealing with 
European international relations since 1895. W. L. Langer will soon 
bring out a study of Caprivi's policy and the Franco-Russian alliance. 
Sidney B. Fay's long-expected book on The Origins of the World War 
will be published in September. Ultimately American historians may 
be expected to interest themselves in the history of the war itself, 
for they possess in the Hoover .War Library at Stanford University, 
the gift of the present Republican candidate for the presidency, 
a very complete collection of published books, pamphlets and docu- 
ments, and not a little unpublished documentary material. In fact 
American writers have already begun on the war. Charles Seymour's 
The Intimate Papers of Colonel House and R. S. Baker's Woodrow 
Wilson and World Settlement are perhaps the most informing books 
yet written about the war and the peace. We like to flatter ourselves 
in thinking that we take a more objective view of the great conflict 
than can Europeans, but I suppose that we are hardly able to decide 
that question. 

To sum up: American historians are not discouraged and look 
forward to ever greater activity. So bright, in fact, are the prospects 
for the advance of modern European history in the United States 
that the University of Chicago has recently established The Journal 
of Modern History, the first issue of which will be published in 1929. 
Although the Journal will be edited by American scholars, it will 
welcome contributions from European historians, and on behalf of its 
board of editors I extend to the members of the International Con- 
gress of Historical Studies a most cordial invitation to submit articles, 
documents, reviews of books or any other material relating to any 
phase of the history of Europe since the close of the middle ages. 
The Journal will also be glad to receive books for review and 
bibliographical notes; and, I need hardly say, it will be very happy 
to receive subscriptions. Our hope is that the Journal may be an 
organ of intellectual co-operation between Europe and the United 
States and help to remove the reproach often heard of recent years 
that history has become mere propaganda in the service of ex- 
aggerated nationalism. The Journal, one should add, is not to be 
the rival but the complement of The American Historical Review. 

Some Reflections on a Revolutionary Age 

An address to the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Indiana University, 
June 1927. It was a commonplace that the nineteenth century began 
with the jail of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) 
and extended to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. 
Often the eighteenth century was considered as covering the period 
from 1715 to 1815. I did not like this perio dilation, for it seemed 
to me that the collapse of the Ancient Regime in Europe began, 
not with the events of 1789 in France, but with the American 
revolution of 1776, the partition of Poland in 1772, the invention 
of the steam engine in 1769, and the publication of Adam Smith's 
The Wealth of Nations in 1776. In about a hundred years these 
circumstances and forces produced a relatively stable Europe, the 
like of which had never been known in modern times— the Europe 
of 1871-1914. The theme of this address was, then, that of a century 
of revolution, 1770-1871, followed by an aftermath of synthesis 
which was interrupted by the war of 1914-1918. In 1927 the synthesis 
appeared to have been renewed. Europe had recovered from the 
worst effects of the war, the Great Depression was not foreseen, 
Mussolini seemed to be of little importance, Hitler of even less. 
Russia was still in economic confusion and no longer interested in 
promoting world revolution. The withdrawal of the United States 
from European politics, while regretted, was not taken too seriously. 
Japan had not begun to overrun China, even though the chaos in 
China invited such action. European colonies in Asia and Africa 
gave no sign of their revolt twenty years later against their white 
masters. In 1927 Europe looked as stable as it had been in, say, 1900. 

Were I to rewrite the paper in 1960, I should not change the 
first and second parts, that is, up to 1914. But the years from 1919 
to 1939 I should treat as a period of armistice between the two 
world wars, and the years from 1914 to 1960 as a period of violence, 
the end of which is not in sight. 

The basis of the territorial settlements of 1919-1920 was the prin- 
ciple of nationality or self-determination (although it was violated 
in detail from place to place). This basis was not seriously changed 


76 The Fashion and Future of History 

in the settlements after the second war. To be sure, Poland was 
shifted somewhat to the west, and the Soviet Union, as the successor 
of the former Russian Empire, reabsorbed the Baltic states and 
Bessarabia; and a few other rectifications of frontier took place. 
Germany is at present partitioned: whether permanently, no one 
knows. The territorial revolution which began with the partition of 
Poland may now have well come to an end. 

JL ou, young ladies and gentlemen, who have just been inducted into 
Phi Beta Kappa, average, I fancy, twenty-two years of age. Though 
you may not realise the fact— unless you have sat at the feet of my 
friend Professor Benns 1 — your life has been passed in an age of 
revolution. In the year of your birth occurred what is commonly 
called the First Russian Revolution. When you had reached the age 
of three, the Young Turks rose against the Red Sultan, Abdul Hamid; 
when you were five, Portugal indulged in the first of its twenty-three 
revolutions. At nine, you might have been excited by the prospect 
of Ulster rebelling against the British government which was pro- 
posing to establish Home Rule in Ireland. The habit of revolution 
was not, however, peculiarly European. In 1905 Persia imposed 
a parliament upon its autocratic Shah and a few years later forced 
him to take the road to exile. The winter of 1911-1912 saw the Manchu 
dynasty toppled over by Chinese republicans. In that same year 
Porfirio Diaz was driven out by Francisco Madera, who himself 
mounted to the presidential chair of Mexico only to be supplanted 
presently by Victoriano Huerta, who in turn gave place to Venus- 
tiano Carranza. In Venezuela the famous General Castro maintained 
the reputation of Latin America, and of Central America it is 
hardly necessary to speak. 

The Great War gave a brief pause to such tendencies, for every 
people, no matter how discontented, rallied to its government and, 
in the expectation of victory, nobly endured privation and suffering 
of the direst sort. But when victory proved elusive and the promised 
rewards could not be paid, war-weary and maddened nations rose 

1 F. Lee Benns, professor of history in Indiana University. 

Some Reflections on a Revolutionary Age 77 

one after the other to dispense with rulers who had led them first 
into war and then into disaster. In 1917 Russia passed from Tsarist 
autocracy to inchoate democracy and thence to full-blown Com- 
munism. At the end of 1918 the Habsburgs and the Hohenzollerns 
were unable to survive the defeats of their armies. The return 
of peace has not destroyed the fashion. Sinn Fein terrorized the 
British government into recognizing the Irish Free State, and that 
same government has made concessions to Egypt and India that were 
the alternate to, if not the equivalent of, revolution. In Turkey 
Mustapha Kemal Pasha has overthrown the Sultanate and the 
Caliphate, and in Persia Riza Khan Pahlavi has deposed the House of 
Qajar in favor &f himself. At this moment the Chinese Revolution 
has flared into renewed vigor. Even so well-ordered a state as Chile 
has recently witnessed several upsets. Nor are the exploits of Benito 
Mussolini and General Primo de Rivera to be forgotten. One may 
well ask whether revolution is not endemic in the modern world. 

As a matter of fact, the sensational picture I have drawn gives 
an entirely false perspective. Our age is impressed by this riot of 
revolutions because the last quarter of the nineteenth century was 
a singularly quiet and peaceful epoch in which the most startling 
events were the occasional assassination of some chief of state. But 
our grandfathers and their fathers lived in one of the liveliest periods 
in the history of the world, and I propose to show that the excitements 
of our day are merely the belated manifestation of forces long at work, 
forces which may be traced back to the early days of your society. 

As a point of departure, let me summarize our Western civilization 
as it exists in the first quarter of the twentieth century. The unit of 
world organization is for better or for worse, the nation, and in a 
rough way the frontiers of states correspond to the identity of 

In politics fundamentals are: freedom of personal movement, free- 
dom to follow any trade or profession, freedom of conscience; equal- 
ity before the law, equality of opportunity so far as the law can 
provide it; democratic methods of government, achieved by most 
peoples or recognized as the goal to which they aspire. Materially, life 
is dominated by machinery. Men and goods are transported by 
machinery; information is transmitted by machines; the commodities 
of daily existence are made almost exclusively by machinery, and if 
food is not actually grown by machinery, the land is able to produce 

78 The Fashion and Future of History 

the necessary quantity of food only by the aid of machinery. Fabu- 
lous wealth, however, has not solved, but rather intensified, the 
age-old problem of poverty; with the result that millions of men and 
women, convinced that the existing economic system is unjust, ask 
if it is necessary. Indeed, no institution, political, social, economic 
or religious, is now regarded as sacrosanct, and man refuses to 
accept any barrier to his imagination or enterprise. 

These are commonplaces which it is almost insulting to your 
patience to repeat. But if Voltaire were to return to earth, he would 
scarcely recognize the European landscape. In 1778, the year of his 
death, there were scarcely any nation-states, for the idea of nationality 
had hardly germinated. In politics despotism, or occasionally oli- 
garchy, as in Britain or Holland, was the rule. Socially, privilege 
was the fortune of the few, serfdom the lot of the masses over large 
sections of the old world. The hand-worker still furnished the only 
kind of labor, industry was monopolized by the guilds. There were 
many barriers to intellectual freedom, and religion was the most 
potent spiritual influence in the lives of the overwhelming majority 
of mankind. 

These again are commonplaces. The point I wish to make is that 
these conditions had obtained for centuries. Germany had been 
a mosaic of minute states for five hundred years, Italy a geographical 
expression for a thousand; the Turks had been established in the 
Balkan peninsula for four centuries. In spite of innumerable small 
changes of territory, the map of Europe had altered little in essentials 
since the early Middle Ages. The prevailing political philosophy 
which lauded the benevolent despot was not radically different from 
that which had inspired the best Roman emperors. The methods of 
industry and agriculture showed but little improvement since the 
days of Charlemagne. In matters of the mind, age-old tradition was 
still strongly entrenched. If science was beginning to plot a new 
course, religion was not, for Protestant and Gatholic alike appealed 
to the ideas, as they respectively understood them, of the early 
centuries of the Christian era. Apart from a handful of intellectuals, 
there was, in most parts of Europe, little disposition to challenge his- 
toric institutions or change existing conditions; it could not have 
been otherwise, because for centuries the masses had been ignorant 
and were supposed to remain so. If Voltaire would be surprised, and 
perhaps not altogether enchanted by the spectacle of the twentieth 

Some Reflections on a Revolutionary Age 79 

century, the Emperor Frederick II (1215-1250) would have easily 
comprehended the age of Louis XV (1643-1715) . 

The picture is not radically different for the New World. In the 
English-speaking areas, the social system was freer for white men 
than in Europe, but slavery still flourished; democracy was by no 
means an universal creed; industry was hardly born; nationalism was 
but a frail plant. Latin America was still controlled by Spain by 
the methods and in the spirit of the sixteenth century. Africa 
was almost beyond the ken of Europe, and Asia lived its own life, 
disdainful of Europe, and except in the case of India, hostile to inter- 
course with it. The separation of continents was not a mere fact 
of geography, it was sanctified by barriers of ignorance and prejudice. 

In the last century and a half, then, society and civilization have 
undergone a greater transformation than in the previous thousand 
years. They have, in short, been revolutionized, not merely in the 
sense that overt acts have changed the form and fabric of states, 
but they have been transformed in character and spirit. The process 
has been accomplished in three phases. First of all, there is a period 
from ca. 1775 to ca. 1875, which may be described as a century of 
revolution; revolution political, social, economic, colonial, territorial 
and intellectual. During these hundred years the various forces which 
govern the world of today are generated, chiefly in Europe, and 
begin to do their work; but they remain to some extent isolated 
phenomena, or at least, their relation to each other is not fully un- 
derstood. They gain momentum; but they do not come into their 
own, so to speak, and exercise preponderating influence until the 
generation or half century preceding the Great War. This second 
period I venture to call, for lack of a better term, fifty years of 
synthesis. Lastly, the Great War reveals a fact obscured by the great 
material prosperity of the second period: the fact that the work 
of synthesis was not complete, that the constructive ideas of the 
mid-nineteenth century had been kept in check in certain regions 
by conservative forces which rested on the support of tradition and 
military power. The effect of the Great War was to give new life 
to the revolutionary impulses and, by the destruction of the military 
caste which opposed them, to make possible their fuller application. 
It is their renewed expression which has created at once the seeming 
confusion of the past ten years and the hope for the future. 

The political phase of the century of revolution begins with the 

80 The Fashion and Future of History 

revolt of the American colonies. The complicated causes of that 
struggle and its effects on our own country do not concern us here. 
What I wish to point out is that it succeeded and that its success 
unquestionably hastened the great French convulsion of 1789. That 
event may fairly be called the beginning of a new era, for it pro- 
claimed and to some extent established two great principles: (1) 
control of government by a representative assembly and (2) universal 
manhood suffrage. Henceforth European political history is the 
record of the advance of these ideas, in constant conflict with absolut- 
ist tradition and often at odds with each other. Nearly a century 
has to pass before the victory is won, but by about 1870 the principle 
of self-government is definitely accepted as the basis of European con- 
stitutions. In France itself, it was not effectively secured till 1875. 
In Italy it went along with the achievement of unity in 1861, and 
Spain finally got a liberal constitution in 1869. The year 1867 
witnessed the establishment of constitutionalism in Austria and 
Hungary and the creation of a national diet in Germany. The 
Balkan states reached the same goal in the sixties and seventies. 
Universal suffrage made slower progress, being restored in France 
itself only in 1848; but its adoption in Germany in 1867 may be 
said to have made it the norm towards which political progress would 
henceforth move. In the same year, the second Reform Act gave 
England a democratic franchise for the first time. 

The social revolution, without which the political revolution would 
have been meaningless and impossible, was likewise in large measure 
a product of France, although it is fair to remember that both 
Joseph II and Frederick the Great did something towards abolishing 
serfdom in their respective dominions. The famous night of August 
4, 1789, provided a program for French armies to carry with them 
in their conquest of Europe; but beyond the reach of those armies 
the process of reform was slow. Although serfdom was formally 
abolished in Prussia in 1807, a generation had to pass before all the 
details of the new order were worked out. Efforts were actually made 
to reestablish serfdom in Sardinia after 1815. The last remnants of 
feudalism disappeared in Austria only in 1848. Bondage right lasted 
in Romania until 1864 and in Russia until 1861. The abolition of 
slavery by the French Convention in 1793 and by the British Parlia- 
ment in 1834 set examples which the United States was constrained 
to follow, albeit a generation later and at the cost of civil war. 

Some Reflections on a Revolutionary Age 81 

In similar fashion, the guild system, though destroyed in France by 
the National Assembly, withered slowly elsewhere; it survived in 
Prussia, except for a temporary abolition in 1846-1849, until 1809. 

The economic revolution began in England at about the same time 
as the political and social revolution in France, and it kept pace, 
in the rest of Europe, more or less with political progress and social 
reform. English farming was put on a modern basis in the latter 
half of the eighteenth century, but it was not until the third quarter 
of the nineteenth that scientific methods were generally adopted 
throughout continental Europe; as late as 1861 the flail was still 
being used in some parts of France. Progress in this direction de- 
pended in no small measure upon the disappearance of feudal 
methods of landholding, and advanced as the latter were abolished. 

Industrially, there is the same story to tell. The great inventions 
which inaugurated the industrial revolution were made in England 
chiefly between 1770 and 1800; in the next quarter of a century 
they are systematically applied, and by 1825 England has been pretty 
thoroughly industrialized. On the continent the new processes begin 
to be experimented with after 1815, and by 1850 they have been 
generally adopted in France and Belgium. Germany takes them up 
in earnest in the following twenty years, the sixties being a kind 
of boom period, and by 1870 the spade work had been achieved. 
About this same time Italy and Austria begin to fall in line. In 
general, therefore, it may be said that nearly a hundred years elapse 
from the time when Englishmen begin to demonstrate the possibil- 
ities of machinery until the continental peoples grasp its necessity. 
Our own country was nearly as backward, for it required the impetus 
of the Civil War to start the North on the path of large-scale indus- 
trial development. 

The political consequences of this economic transformation need 
only be mentioned. The effective demand for popular participation 
in government increases pari passu with the adoption of the new 
industrial methods, and aspirations to unity in both Germany and 
Italy receive much stimulation because the material disadvantages 
of disunion are for the first time clearly appreciated. These facts, 
however, illustrate my argument that the democratic idea did not 
enjoy general recognition until three quarters of a century after it 
had been launched in France. 

The colonial revolution has several aspects. Most obviously, the 

82 The Fashion and Future of History 

independence of the United States and the South American peoples 
doomed the old colonial system as a means of exploitation; and the 
somewhat paradoxical consequence was that when the New World 
became free to work out its own political destiny, its economic rela- 
tionship with Europe became closer with each passing decade. A 
second aspect of the colonial revolution is equally important. The 
economic changes in the United Kingdom were directly and im- 
mediately responsible for a huge emigration from that country in 
the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century, and in so far as 
this emigration went to British colonies, it brought about a complete 
change in British colonial policy. In spite of what is often asserted, 
that policy was not greatly affected by the American Revolution 
which was a protest against it. It is true, of course, that the ex- 
ploitation symbolized by the Navigation Acts was abandoned, but 
the control of the mother country was maintained well into the nine- 
teenth century. When, however, Canada and Australasia began to 
fill up (the expression is not accurate as a statement of fact!) with 
Englishmen who insisted on governing themselves, England grasped 
the logic of the situation and granted self-government, all the more 
readily because imperial sentiment was at a low ebb. But not till 
1859, nearly a century after the Townshend Acts, was tariff autonomy 
granted, and the colonies were made responsible for their own defence 
only about 1870, more than a hundred years after the Stamp Act 
Once again it is evident that the change from the old to a new system 
is spread over nearly a century, and it may be noted that there were 
few new developments until the Great War. 

About the same time that Great Britain lost its American colonies, 
it began to find compensation in India. Clive's victory at Plassey 
in 1757 was followed by the famous India Acts of 1773 and 1784, 
which established the beginnings of effective control and thanks to 
these arrangements, India became a most valuable market for British 
goods. But England had a third commodity for export besides men 
and goods — capital. Between 1848 and 1856 large amounts were in- 
vested in India for the construction of roads, canals, telegraphs and 
railways, and the transfer of the functions of the East India Company 
to the Crown is to be explained as much by the desire to control 
the economic development of the country as by the incident of the 
Great Mutiny. The system set up in 1857 was not modified until the 
present century. 

Some Reflections on a Revolutionary Age 83 

Farther east, China and Japan were objects of increasing interest, 
for their products were in great demand and it was thought only 
reasonable that in return they should, willy-nilly, open their doors 
to European goods. Between 1839 and 1860, under the leadership 
of England, China is forced to enter into regular relations with the 
western nations; similar treatment is meted out to Japan between 
1853 and 1864, with Great Britain again playing a leading, though 
not the instigating, role. But once contact is established, the policy 
of Europe and America in the Far East becomes quiescent till the 
very end of the century. These mid-century trading activities were 
mutually profitable and must be carefully distinguished from the 
land-grabbing and concession-hunting imperialism of our own day. 
Before leaving this theme, it may be noted that French colonial policy 
was also breaking with tradition. The decision to incorporate Algeria 
into France and to regard its inhabitants as Frenchmen was a new 
departure, inspired however, not so much by economic necessity as 
by political idealism. 

The territorial revolution begins with the partition of Poland, 
1772-1795, which excited considerable indignation at the time. It 
was in fact a body blow at the doctrine later described as historic 
right, and set a precedent which was promptly utilized by the French 
Directory to seize the Rhineland and the Netherlands and by Napo- 
leon Bonaparte to reorganize Italy and Germany. These achievements 
are often looked upon as merely so many things to be undone by 
the Congress of Vienna. Actually they were revolutionary acts of the 
greatest moment. No doubt Napoleon's manipulations of the map 
were dictated by his own political necessities, but they also pointed 
the course of the future. His kingdom of Italy, incomplete though 
it was, provided patriots of the Peninsula with an ideal for the 
future; his reduction of the number of German states facilitated 
enormously the work of Bismarck, and his later oppressions aroused 
German national sentiment from the torpor of centuries. The diplo- 
macy of Metternich might restore the old arrangements and prevail 
for a time, but the imponderables were against him and his successors. 
In the revolutions of 1848 the primary aim of the Italians was 
national unity; in the Frankfort Parliament, the principal topic 
of debate was the area to be included in a German national state, 
and the decision was revolutionary, for it was against the inclusion 
of Austria, which had been part of Germany for 800 years. Germans 

84 The Fashion and Future of History 

and Italians both failed in 1848-9, but the very fact of failure made 
them the more determined to succeed by other methods. So the actual 
work of unification by Cavour and Bismarck, heroic as it was, was 
only the logical conclusion of the work begun in 1797 and 1803. 
And it may be observed that our Civil War, though it involved no 
territorial changes, nevertheless symbolized the victory of the Ameri- 
can national idea over the doctrine of particularism and separatism; 
it was, in a very real sense, the counterpart of what was happening in 
Europe during the same decade. 

During the same period, a similar process was at work in the 
Balkan peninsula. As far back as 1780, Joseph II and Catherine II 
had elaborated their "Greek project" for the destruction of the 
Ottoman Empire; their aims were essentially dynastic, and they 
met with scant success. But the signal had been given, and the 
influence of the French Revolution commenced to tell. 

From the beginning of the Serbian revolt in 1804 to the Treaty 
of Berlin in 1878, the trend is ever the same. One people after 
another secures emancipation from the Turkish yoke, and by the 
latter date four independent states and one practically independent 
principality have been established. The map of Europe took the 
form it was to retain till the eve of the Great War; in comparison 
with the changes effected, in the name and interest of the idea of 
nationality, the innumerable shufflings of territory that went on before 
1789 seem of small consequence. For this reason it seems proper to 
speak of these great events as constituting a territorial revolution. 

In this connection a word must be said about the new conception 
of international relations. In the eighteenth century the only princi- 
ples had been the self-interest of monarchs and the balance of power. 
The first of them had induced many rulers to compromise with 
Napoleon, who was able thereby to dispense with the second. So 
in 1815 an attempt was made to organize Europe for peace. The 
experiment of the Holy Alliance — to use the conventional, if in- 
accurate term — was successful for only a short time, but the idea of 
a Concert of Europe remained. In a Ph.D. examination I once asked 
the candidate what he understood by the phrase "Conceit of Europe". 
After some hesitation, he replied, "Well, there is concert only when 
the powers don't play"; a shrewd observation, for obviously if one 
power sounds too strident a note, there is little chance for accommo- 
dation. This was proved in the two most important episodes of 

Some Reflections on a Revolutionary Age 85 

the century, the unification of Italy and Germany, when Cavour and 
Bismarck went their ways regardless of the rest of Europe, which, 
for that matter, showed little disposition to intervene. The Concert 
also failed to prevent both the Crimean war and the Russo-Turkish 
war of 1877; but it did succeed in asserting the principle that the 
settlement of Near Eastern questions, no matter how they might 
arise, was the concern of all the Great Powers. In view of the events 
of 1908-1914, it is well to recall that the independence of Greece 
in 1830, the settlement of the Egyptian question in 1840, the 
convention of the Straits of 1841, and the recognition of Romania 
were determined upon by the Concert, and that after the Crimean 
War Austria and Prussia were invited to the Congress of Paris, al- 
though they had not been belligerent. In 1878, most important of all, 
Russia recognized that it must submit its treaty with Turkey to 
the judgment of the Powers. The principle of the Concert was 
apparently well established, if not in the public law, at least in the 
public practice of Europe. 

Finally there was an intellectual revolution. In the first place 
the authority of religion was steadily undermined. Protestants and 
Catholics differed on most points, but on one thing they were agreed: 
the infallibility of the Bible. Nor, in 1789, were there many persons 
who did not believe in a personal God or regard religion as essential 
to a well-ordered and proper life. Seventy-five years later, the picture 
is radically altered. Sir Charles Lyell's new geology (1830-33) has 
played havoc with Archbishop Ussher's calendar, and the co-called 
"higher criticism" has denied the literal accuracy and even the divine 
inspiration of Holy Scripture; Alexander von Humboldt has drawn 
his picture of the Cosmos as a natural phenomenon, and Charles 
Darwin has proclaimed the theory of evolution. To such teachings 
the Roman Church replies with doctrines which from some points 
of view are equally revolutionary— I mean the pronouncements of 
Pius IX on the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility. 
By 1870 the conflict between science and religious dogma is in full 
swing, just as in that very year the Pope could be deprived of his 
temporal power without any serious protest being made even from 
Catholic countries. Practically speaking, religion had lost con- 
siderable ground. The masses in the towns, seeing in their Sundays 
the only day of relief from their factory work, were becoming more 
indifferent, while the intellectual classes discovered in nationalism 

86 The Fashion and Future of History 

a more than adequate substitute for religious devotions. 

The second great change intellectually had to do with social and 
economic problems. From time immemorial it had been assumed that 
poverty was inevitable, and only rarely had an agitator dared to 
question the sanctity of private property. But the revolution in 
France confiscated the estates of the nobles and clergy, and in 
1797 Baboeuf was ventilating the first of modern socialistic schemes. 
Both Fourier and Saint-Simon, it may be noted, were writing before 
the new industrial methods had made much headway in France. 
Real socialism was of course somewhat later in manifesting itself, but 
by 1870 the Marxian program was fully developed, and a socialist 
party had been formed in Germany, which meant that millions were 
demanding that private property be no longer respected if it was 
a barrier to social reform. 

Thirdly, a new conception of human society gradually developed 
in the first half of the nineteenth century. Hitherto regarded as static 
and subject to immutable laws, it now came to be looked upon as 
dynamic, a point of view that was perhaps borrowed from the treat- 
ment of matter at the hands of the chemists. Mankind was no longer 
to be left helpless in face of the prejudices of the past and the 
problems of the present. For this iron law of inevitability there was 
substituted the doctrine of human perfectibility. Just as the in- 
dividual, condemned before the French Revolution, with rare ex- 
ceptions, to the status to which he had been born, was now accord- 
ing to the principles of 1789, free to rise as high as chance and 
talent might carry him, so there was no limit to the possibilities of 
social development. Scientific research might even discover the 
formula for controlling it. At any rate, the philosophical radicals 
in England, the followers of Comte in France, and the socialists 
in Germany, elaborated their several laws of progress. Common 
to all of them was the horror felt for human suffering, a feeling 
which was displayed in the late eighteenth century and which sank 
deep in the popular mind as the evils of the new industrialism were 
gradually revealed. The humanitarian legislation of Victorian Eng- 
land and the genuine sympathy of Napoleon III for the working 
classes of France show that this new philosophy left its impress upon 
practical politicians. In short, it was now accepted by thinking people 
that progress was not only a theory but a fact. Finally, under this 
heading should perhaps be mentioned the new notion that the edu- 

Some Reflections on a Revolutionary Age 87 

cation of the masses was both desirable and possible. It was natural 
that revolutionary France should proclaim this precept: it was more 
significant that it should be first practically applied by conservative, 
absolutist Prussia. But not until "the German schoolmaster had 
won the battle of Sadowa" (according to the contemporary saying) 
and Robert Lowe had said, as an opponent of the Reform Act of 
1867, "We must educate our masters", did England take the lesson 
to heart and manage to put through the Education Act of 1870, 
more than seventy-five years after Condorcet had persuaded the 
Convention to approve his generous plans. 

By 1871, to take a familiar date, the century of revolution had 
had been supplanted by constitutional, and in some countries 
had been supplanted by constitutional, and in some countries 
democratic, government. Distinctions at law between classes had 
disappeared, and personal rights and liberties were tolerably secure. 
The new industrial system had been generally adopted. The problem 
of capital and labor had become familiar, and various proposals were 
being advanced for its solution. In international politics, the princi- 
ple of nationality had been recognized as a proper basis of state 
organization. In religion churches had been brought under civil 
control. In short, the foundations of contemporary civilization had 
been firmly laid. 

From 1871 to 1914 there were few new developments. Protective tar- 
iffs, which became the rage, were certainly not new, for they had 
flourished in the days of mercantilism. The movement toward 
separation of church and state, evident in a few countries, was new 
to Europe, though long since accomplished in the United States. The 
one original contribution was the idea that the State, without be- 
coming socialistic, should nevertheless undertake to deal with the 
problem of poverty by intervening between capital and labor and 
by setting up schemes of social insurance. This, it may be noted, was 
the reply of capitalism to that socialism which was appealing more 
and more to European workers. 

In general, the period is one of synthesis: the various forces cast up 
in the first half of the century are, so to speak, thrown into a 
crucible and fused together. The new political machinery, once an end 
in itself, is used for the solution, or attempted solution, of economic 
and social and religious problems. Conservatives and radicals dis- 
pute the control of parliaments for very practical reasons. Socialists 

88 The Fashion and Future of History 

attack religion and the churches as bulwarks of the existing economic 
order. The problem of education is seen to involve all the issues: 
fitting men and women to discharge their political duties as citizens, 
preparing them to make their living, instilling into them religious 
precepts, indoctrinating them with patriotic traditions and nation- 
alist sentiments. Politics, economics, social problems, and religion 
become more and more interrelated, and it is no longer possible to 
separate them in water-tight compartments as was possible to a 
considerable extent in the early part of the nineteenth century. 

The details of the picture vary from country to country, for the 
new ideas and forces are combined in different proportions. Great 
Britain is seen as a highly industrialized, democratic state; France 
is perhaps even more democratic, but agriculture remains the basis 
of its economy; Germany becomes almost as industrialized as Great 
Britain, but resists the democratic pressure; Austria-Hungary con- 
tinues to be both conservative and agricultural; Italy resembles 
France, and the United States took its cue from England. I omit 
Russia, for my formula clearly does not apply to that vast country, 
which though lying in Europe was not of Europe and went its own 
way, resisting as far as possible the penetration of European ideas 
and contributing little or nothing to the solution of Europe's prob- 
lems. The revolution of 1905, an attempt to introduce Western 
ideas into government and politics, was not understood or really 
appreciated by the masses, and was, on the whole, a failure. 

Western and Central Europe, in spite of differences of race and 
political forms, constituted a fairly homogenous entity; in the New 
World a similar conception found expression in the gospel of Pan- 

Thus, outwardly at any rate, the process of synthesis had been 
highly successful. There was no war between the great European 
powers; a longer period of peace was enjoyed than at any time, 
says the German historian Stern, since the days of Hadrian and An- 
toninus Pius. Even the Russian upheaval of 1905 did not seriously 
disturb the general calm. For these reasons the era was one of un- 
paralleled material prosperity, in which the working classes shared 
to some extent. Social reform was in the air, and freedom of speech 
and liberty of conscience were not seriously contested. At long last, 
Europe seemed to have secured stability, so much so that towards the 

Some Reflections on a Revolutionary Age 89 

end of the last century it could not find within its own confines 
a sufficient outlet for its energies and turned to the task of spreading 
its civilization throughout the world. 

Actually this apparent stability was that of the calm before the 
storm. It was, in fact, being undermined by two forces which were the 
logical, though one hesitates to say inevitable, consequences of the 
process of revolution already referred to,— nationalism which was born 
of the political revolution in France, and imperialism which was the 
child of the economic revolution in England. 

The French Revolution laid down the doctrine that people should 
govern themselves. But what should be the unit of organization? 
The same revolution gave the answer— the nation. I shall not attempt 
to define the criteria of a nation beyond saying that a nation exists 
when a group of people with common traditions and aspirations con- 
sider themselves to form a nation. My point is simply that the demand 
for self-government and the desire for national unity and independ- 
ence developed simultaneously; the achievement of the latter was 
only the natural application of the former. Hence the idea of 
nationality, in the first three quarters of the last century, appeared 
to be constructive and helpful, and united Italy, the new German 
Empire, and the emancipated Balkan states were welcomed as 
stabilizing and proper entities. But as time went on, nationalism 
became a disturbing factor. However political in its origin, it 
acquired more and more an economic tinge. In an age of protective 
tariffs and intense commercial competition, it was quite natural for 
governments and peoples to seek security for their own interests, 
regardless of others, but this state of mind did not promote the 
comity of nations. Each became a law unto itself, and the Concert 
of Europe grew more and more fragile; if the eighteenth century was 
dominated by dynastic interests, the twentieth thought only in terms 
of national interests, about which it was deemed traitorous to com- 

Another danger lay in the fact that the principle of nationality 
was not thoroughly applied. Many irredentist areas were created or 
left by the wars of 1859-1878, and the Habsburg Monarchy re- 
mained a bundle of unrecognized peoples. It was perfectly natural 
that the ever-increasing force of the democratic dogma should stir 
and make restless those races or groups of races whose aspirations had 

90 The Fashion and Future of History 

not been satisfied, and when their reasonable demands were refused, 
in the interest of the nationalism of the ruling races, the only recourse 
was conspiracy, terrorism, and revolution. Alsace-Lorraine and Tren- 
tino, Bohemia and Poland, Bosnia and Macedonia were so many 
elements of poison seeping through the body politic of Europe. 
And the great military monarchies to which these disputed and 
discontented provinces belonged could think of no other cure for 
the disease than to try to maintain their titles by force. Hence, in 
the first place, the heaping-up of land armaments, and secondly, the 
conclusion of alliances and counter-alliances. For a generation, this 
system seemed to provide guarantees of peace; in fact, it made con- 
cessions and changes difficult or impossible, yet the longer they were 
postponed, the more likely were the chances of an explosion. 

Contemporary imperialism developed because the industrial na- 
tions of western Europe could not find at home food for their peo- 
ple, raw materials for their industry, employment for their workers, 
markets for their goods and capital. The impulse to seek for these 
things beyond the shores of Europe was very strong. No doubt a good 
deal of the impulse came from individuals who were over-greedy 
for the profits to be made by exploiting undeveloped lands and back- 
ward peoples. But the commodities of imperialistic enterprise were 
more and more in demand, and apart from its excesses, the move- 
ment was an ineluctable economic necessity. And just as political 
nationalism put on an economic dress, so economic imperialism be- 
came the football of politics. It is not altogether clear whether the 
imperialistic rivalries had much direct bearing on the outbreak of 
war in July 1914, for the sundry disputes about colonies and con- 
cessions which had been plaguing Europe for some years had been 
adjusted by diplomacy; the African and Bagdad slates were clean. 
But these rivalries had bred naval armaments, and it was fear of 
the German navy that took England into the war, just as it was 
partly unwillingness to resume colonial wrangling that made it refuse 
to sacrifice the ententes with France and Russia as the price of an 
agreement with Germany. Furthermore, the attitude of Russia toward 
Serbia and of Germany towards Austria was inspired in part by 
their conflicting plans for the future of Turkey. Whatever the exact 
truth about 1914, imperialism contributed powerfully to making 
the international atmosphere full of hatred and suspicion and fear, 
so that when the final crash came, no government entirely trusted 

Some Reflections on a Revolutionary Age 91 

another and some distrusted each other so deeply that compromise 
was out of the question. 

Personally I am inclined to think that nationalism and imperialism, 
more particularly the former because of its excesses, did make a 
general European war almost inevitable, in spite of the fact that 
most statesmen wished to avoid it. Be that as it may, it is futile 
for the historian to bemoan their existence or to berate their protag- 
onists. Both are phenomena which developed normally out of the 
circumstances of the age and whose historical provenience is quite 

If the Great War was, in the last analysis, produced by revolution- 
ary forces which had escaped control, its consequences were equally 
revolutionary. What began as a Balkan conflict developed into a 
world-wide struggle: the United States, certain states of Latin 
America, India, China and Japan were drawn in. Four ancient 
monarchies were overwhelmed; in one of them a new social order was 
established, and in t\e other parliamentary governments were set up. 
In the making of the peace, the map of Europe was redrawn with a 
thoroughness not equalled since the barbarians destroyed the Roman 
Empire. Finally a League of Nations embracing all continents was 
brought into being. This League was the particular contribution 
of the United States for the solution of the European anarchy; we 
'remained, shall it be said by an accident, outside our own creation, 
but we discovered ourselves as the richest nation of the globe. The 
Romanian statesman Take Jonescu, claims to have foreseen much 
of this in August 1914; but for the rulers whose action precipitated 
the war, these results were utterly unexpected. To those of us who 
have witnessed them, the spectacle is overwhelming. Likewise, the 
effort of Asiatic and other non-European peoples to modernize their 
institutions and to become masters in their own houses fills certain 
circles with dismay. 

Yet these cataclysmic events are in large measure only the logical 
result and working out of the ideas whose origin and development 
I have been tracing. The substitution of democratic for autocratic 
government in eastern Europe had been desired and striven for 
by its peoples for three quarters of a century. The reconstruction 
of the map of Europe on the principle of recognizing each and every 
nationality, which is so bitterly denounced under the name of "Bal- 
kanization", is nothing if not the corollary of self-government. Both 

92 The Fashion and Future of History 

derive from the principle of 1789. So also does that trend to the Left 
which has been so evident in Europe in spite of the fact that at the 
moment liberalism is at a discount in more than one country; even 
the most despotic governments feel the necessity of legislating in the 
interests of the masses, and the men who govern are more than 
ever men of the people, after the fashion of 1793. 

The most vivid illustration of this tendency is to be seen, of 
course, in what was and still is in popular parlance, Russia. The 
temptation is great to discourse on the Soviet regime, for it connotes 
an upheaval more stupendous than even the French Revolution; 
it has, in fact, achieved revolution literally, by elevating the lowly 
and depressing the mighty. A few observations must suffice. The 
Communist philosophy is that of Karl Marx, but it has been applied 
in conditions never imagined by its founder, for Russia had not 
passed through the industrialization of western Europe. For that 
reason, Bolshevist rule has been experimental, and has been com- 
pelled in recent years to depart more and more from the canons 
of socialist orthodoxy. And precisely because the whole system is 
still on trial, one may be spared from passing judgment. It is well 
to remember that the social formulae of the French Revolution, 
which now command general acceptance, were as bitterly denounced 
a century ago as Bolshevism is today. A century hence, Moscow may 
serve as the model of all progressive societies. 

Even the participation of non-European nations in the affairs of 
Europe, which I suggest is the real significance of the League 
of Nations, is not surprising. In the generation before the Great 
War, the world, without very fully realizing what was happening, be- 
came more and more an economic unity. That was in part a result 
of the much-decried imperialism, and that circumstance is becoming 
more and more the governing factor in the life of the world. What 
more natural, then, that the world should seek political union 
as well? Just as nineteenth-century nationalism was enormously 
stimulated by economic advantage and necessity, so world unity 
grows as the nations find that they cannot live alone. It is the fashion 
nowadays to decry the excesses of nationalism, but we owe it to 
that very nationalism that we perceive the possibility and the 
desirability of a world society, and we ought also to remember 
that the League of Nations owes not a little to the Concert of Europe, 
inadequate as was that organ of international action. If my contention 

Some Reflections on a Revolutionary Age 93 

is sound that twentieth-century Europe, as moulded by the forces 
of the nineteenth, though afflicted by growing pains and sundry 
sicknesses, is sound in body, we should not despair if the peoples 
outside of Europe exhibit an enthusiasm for the paraphernalia of 
western civilization for which they may not be altogether prepared. 
Rather it is only when all nations have adopted the great principles 
of the French Revolution and acquired the technique of modern 
business that the world order can be firmly secured. It is our privilege 
to live in an age of revolution which began a century and a half 
ago and which has moved inexorably from one triumph to another; 
you who are about to venture from these academic walls may 
reasonably expect to live and play your parts in a still better world. 

Germany in the Ruign of William II 

A lecture given at Western Reserve University in January 1914. It 
created a local sensation, not only in the German press of Cleveland 
but also among my colleagues in the faculty, some of whom had 
studied in Germany and though of it in quite different terms. Six 
months later, when the war broke out, the lecture was remembered, 
and I was hailed as a prophet. Many of the judgments given were 
indeed confirmed by later events. 

X he new German Empire is the most perplexing quantity in the 
modern world, and as unavoidable as it is perplexing". This 
statement of an English observer, whose candor reflects his distrust, 
will perhaps not command general acceptance. The average Ameri- 
can, at any rate, has a well-defined conception of Imperial Germany. 
He thinks of a country grown rich and powerful almost as rapidly 
as our own; of a state where universal military service and a rigid 
educational system generate discipline and efficiency; of cities clean, 
uncannily well-governed, and progressive; of a people whose pleasures 
are indissolubly connected with beer and tobacco and whose personal 
appearance is expansive and heavy. These elements are held in 
solution, he will add, by an autocracy thinly covered with parliamen- 
tary whitewash, an officious bureaucracy regulating every detail of the 
national life, and a wide-spread cultivation of the military spirit. The 
deluge of books dealing with the Kaiser, his capital, his people 
and his works testifies to great popular interest, as do the thousands 
of magazine articles and the despatches which figure in even the 
newspapers of Cleveland. It is safe to say that the best-known picture 
in the world today is that of Kaiser Wilhelm and his heaven-trained 
mustaches, and that few persons are so hated or more admired. It 
is not my purpose to present a bird's eye view of Imperial Germany, 
but rather to examine from an historical point of view some of 
the main tendencies of the last twenty-five years, or the reign of 
William II. 


96 The Fashion and Future of History 

His Majesty became King of Prussia and German Emperor on June 
15, 1888, under circumstances tragic and painful. Just one hundred 
days previously, the old Emperor, William I, der greise Kaiser, who 
had seen service against Napoleon, died in his ninety-first year, loved, 
honored and respected. His son and successor, Frederick III, was 
mortally ill, and harassed by the brutal attitude of the Iron Chan- 
cellor, Prince Otto von Bismarck, and Prince William, the heir to 
his crown, both of whom detested his liberal aspirations. The un- 
timely death of this noble and unassuming gentleman, der weise 
Kaiser as he was often called, brought to the throne a young man of 
twenty-nine who disappointed his subjects by a considered neglect of 
his father's memory and by a bombastic proclamation to his army. He 
was known as an ardent German and a man of resolute will, but a 
succession of costly state visits and holiday jaunts to Norwegian 
waters were regarded with popular disapproval, and William II 
began his reign amid indifference in Germany and disgust in 
Europe. Twenty-five years have wrought a profound change. Der reise 
Kaiser, or the travelling Emperor, has proved to a doubting world 
that he is a man of considerable ability and a factor to be reck- 
oned with on all occasions. He has come to be recognized as the 
embodiment of a new German spirit, as a man who has identified 
himself so completely with his subjects that in the minds of most 
men William II and Germany are synonomous terms. Even to Ameri- 
cans this astonishing monarch is interesting. But admitting that the 
Kaiser has scored a great personal triumph, it is, I believe, possible to 
demonstrate that the position of Germany is relatively less secure and 
its condition less sound than at the beginning of his reign. 

By 1888 the new Empire, then seventeen years old, had completed 
the formative period of its development. The problems arising out 
of a united Germany had been disposed of, the foundations of a 
great national life had been deeply laid. An efficient government, a 
superb army, and an economic advance which had already raised 
Germany to the second rank among commercial states— all these in- 
sured the permanence of the new order and glorified the genius of 
Bismarck, whose handiwork they chiefly were. Any defects in the 
body politic were held to be remediable through the agency of uni- 
versal suffrage, and social discontent was to be cured by means of 
a thorough-going system of state insurance. Above all, the foreign 
policy of the Empire had been conducted with marvellous success. 

Germany in the Reign of William II 97 

Not only did Germany not fear a foreign attack, but it bestrode the 
European situation like a colossus; the isolation of France was com- 
plete, and Bismarck could view with amusement the intrigues of 
General Boulanger to bring on a war of revenge. 

The future historian may not improbably decide that the Bis- 
marckian system required a Bismarck to direct it, and signs were 
not wanting that a "new course", to quote the Emperor William 
himself, was being plotted. Though William II had in his earlier 
days regarded Bismarck with boundless enthusiasm and at the 
beginning of the reign had assured the Chancellor that his services 
would be retained, in reality the two men had little in common 
except a dislike of Frederick III and his liberal ideas. Bismarck 
was now an old man in tolerably feeble health, who displayed no 
appreciation of the new forces agitating an industrial society. To 
social progress he presented an attitude of resolute opposition: the 
insurance schemes were designed simply to euchre the Socialists, and 
at heart he was an individualist. Moreover twenty-eight years of well- 
nigh autocratic power had convinced him that Bismarck and Germany 
were identical. That an inexperienced stripling should desire to 
evolve a personal policy was unintelligible to the old giant. Less 
wise than Moltke, who resigned six weeks after the new dispensation 
began, the Iron Chancellor clung passionately to office, though on 
every side there were signs that the Kaiser was asserting himself. 
For the latter the situation was not unlike that of Louis XIV on 
the death of Mazarin. The officials and courtiers had asked, "Who 
will now show us the way?" and they received the reply, "I". As in 
1661, so in 1888. It was a question whether the Bismarck or the 
Hohenzollern dynasty should rule, for the chancellor had laid plans 
for his son to succeed him. 

The crisis began in January 1890, and on March 20 the founder of 
modern Germany resigned as imperial chancellor and president of 
the Prussian council of ministers. The clash was precipitated by the 
reluctance of the Emperor to renew the anti -socialist law even in a 
milder form, for the latter proposed to solve the social problem by 
means of an international labor conference. This Bismarck called 
"great phraseology," and spurned to the extent of refusing his sig- 
nature to the imperial rescript. The unpleasant fact that the Socialists 
promptly polled more than a million votes added fuel to the fire. In 
the domain of high policy, the Emperor was unwilling to renew the 

98 The Fashion and Future of History 

secret treaty with Russia, on the ground that such conduct was disloyal 
to his ally, the Emperor Francis Joseph, whom Bismarck was appar- 
ently quite willing to desert. Yet personal power rather than public 
policy was the deciding factor. The Emperor insisted on entering into 
direct relations with his ministers, a practice unknown in the days of 
William I and legally contrary to a cabinet order of 1852, which pre- 
scribed the minister president as the medium of communication be- 
tween king and ministers. Several interviews followed; both monarch 
and minister would seem to have lost their temper, and finally William 
demanded the chancellor's resignation. As a sop the old man was 
offered the dignity of Duke of Lauenburg, which would have made him 
one of the sovereign princes of the Empire, but which was declined 
because he desired only the name and title he had always borne. 

So fell the remarkable statesman, who in his own words had "cut 
a certain figure in the history of Germany and of Prussia". Even his 
iron will could not withstand the fervor of youth, and his passing was 
unregretted save in the narrow circle of his intimate friends. The 
exact measure of responsibility to be borne by each of the principals 
and their subordinates cannot be determined at this time because the 
readjustment in German policy caused by the crash has not yet been 
completely worked out, and because men still dispute as to the merits 
of the "new course". Indeed, it has recently been alleged by a famous 
German historian that Bismarck's real offence was a plot to destroy 
universal suffrage as a means of crushing the Socialists, to which the 
Emperor refused his assent, and that the other disputes were unim- 
portant. Without dissecting this statement, I would point out that the 
Emperor was hardly justified in saying, as he did in his letter to the 
prince that "the reasons advanced for your decision convince me that 
further efforts to induce you to withdraw your proposal would be 
fruitless": it was the Emperor, not Bismarck, who demanded a change. 
In the second place, William II, while never persecuting the Socialists 
in Bismarckian fashion, had constantly declared that they are not 
worthy to bear the name of Germans, and like King James and the 
Puritans, had threatened to harry them out of the land. Incidentally, 
the Socialists increase pari passu with the imperial denunciations. And 
finally, the abandonment of the Bismarckian foreign policy, though its 
methods have been retained, has seriously compromised the interna- 
tional position of Germany and has entailed a burden of armaments, 
which, whatever the effect upon the people, has thrown the finances 

Germany in the Reign of William II 99 

of the state into considerable confusion. The retirement of Bismarck 
was probably inevitable, but his premature dismissal by an inexper- 
ienced master has reacted with disastrous consequences upon Emperor 
and nation alike. The four chancellors who have succeeded Bismarck, 
General von Caprivi, Prince Hohenlohe, Prince Bulow, and Dr. von 
Bethmann Hollweg, need merely to be named, for they have one and 
all been the servants rather than the advisers of the Emperor. 

The monarch who in 1890 began to rule as well as to reign is the 
most enigmatic individual of our time. Restless in his physical make- 
up, singularly endowed by nature in mind and imagination, possessed 
of a tenacious memory, and imbued with boundless self-confidence, 
William II combines an ardent belief in medieval political doctrines 
with an enthusiastic devotion to every phase of modern life. There 
would seem to be no branch of human knowledge or activity in which 
His Majesty does not participate and indulge his ordinate love of 
speechifying. In addition to the ordinary vocations of an emperor and 
king, he has shown an intense interest in the development of German 
commerce, preached stirring sermons on land and sea, criticised se- 
verely the national education system, and attempted to dictate styles 
of architecture. He has designed boats for the Kiel yachting week 
which he himself created, directed productions in the royal opera 
house, conducted an orchestra, composed music, painted pictures, and 
discussed archaeology with learned professors. To illustrate, there is 
the Siegesalle in Berlin, with its rows of marble horrors, and publi- 
cists still occasionally refer to his cartoon depicting the yellow peril. 
The latest exploit is a rescript forbidding officers to lean on the arms 
of ladies in public places! Even after twenty-five years the world is al- 
ternately amused and alarmed by the vagaries of the royal arbiter. 
Outside of Germany he is generally considered a harmless dilettante, 
but thousands of his subjects regard him as a genius who unites in his 
own person the myriad talents of the nation. At least no one will deny 
the interest and appeal of this many-sided activity, which is probably 
explained by a feverish desire to lead the German people to yet higher 
things and to impress them, if that be necessary, with a sense of their 
greatness. Let us add that the Emperor William has a deep-seated 
feeling of responsibility, that by precept and example he preaches 
moderation in eating and sparingness in drink, and that his personal 
charm is universally admitted. 

On the other hand William II is the greatest living champion of 

100 The Fashion and Future of Flistory 

reaction and militarism. His first official act as king was to issue a 
proclamation to his army, which he regards as the chief prop to his 
throne, and on every occasion he has caressed and flattered the military 
spirit. In harmony with this tendency is his positive encouragement 
of duelling. His political philosophy is summed up in an unswerving 
allegiance to the divine right of kings, as evidenced by innumerable 
speeches. Two examples will suffice. In 1890 he declared that "it is a 
tradition in our house to consider ourselves as designed by God to 
govern the peoples over whom it is given us to reign". In August 1910, 
he exploded with these words: 

"My grandfather by his own right hand placed on his head 
the royal crown of Prussia, once more declaring with em- 
phasis that it was bestowed upon him by God's grace alone, 
and not by Parliaments, national assemblies or the popular 
voice; so that he regarded himself as the chosen instrument of 
Heaven, and as such performed his duties as ruler Look- 
ing upon myself as the instrument of the Lord, regardless of 
the views and opinions of the hour, I shall go my way, which 
is devoted solely to the well-being and peaceful development 
of the Fatherland". 

On a par with this antiquated belief, which reveals the earlier 
Hohenzollerns in a sorry light and which even Thomas Hobbes, the 
great apologist of monarchy, did not care to defend, is his intolerance 
of opposition. His most famous utterance is perhaps this: "There is 
but one master in this country; it is I, and I will bear no other." He 
has proclaimed that "an opposition of the Prussian nobility to their 
king is a monstrosity", and transformed an old Latin expression into 
Voluntas regis suprema lex. William II has relentlessly disposed of 
every official who refused to bow the knee — Bismarck is merely the 
most illustrious example — and has persecuted so far as the law allows 
all who dare to criticize him or offer unwelcome advice. Convictions for 
lese-majeste have become so common that the press has ceased to 
notice them; it is said that most German newspapers maintain "sit- 
ting" editors whose pleasant duty it is to serve out the sentences im- 
posed for obnoxious references to exalted personages. 

Much might also be made of the Emperor's singular ability, as a 
Protestant monarch, to rule his empire with the help of a Catholic 

Germany in the Reign of William II 101 

priesthood, and to cultivate an advantageous friendship with the 
Caliph of Islam. That he is too fond of publicity and is for all the 
world like a junker cavalry officer; that he talks too much and inter- 
feres in every branch of the government— these are natural criticisms 
which will only be recorded. But when all is said, there remains the 
fact that William II is the greatest of the Hohenzollerns, with the 
possible exception of the great Frederick, and that by his unflagging 
energy and ardent patriotism he has conquered the affections of his 
countrymen and is entitled to the respectful consideration of other 
people. I confess to little love for the Kaiser or his people, but in this 
day of flabbiness and mediocrity, it is refreshing to find some one who 
knows what he wants and strives with all his might and power to 
get it. 

It is the economic advance of Germany in the last twenty-five years 
which has made it the cynosure of all eyes and the wonder of the 
world. In 1888 the population of Germany was 49,000,000; at the 
present time it is not less than 66,000,000, an increase of nearly 35 
percent. Most of these new Germans have been absorbed by manu- 
facturing and commerce: thus in the earlier year 43 percent of the 
population still lived by agriculture, while today only 32 percent are 
so occupied. In 1890 there were 26 towns of more than 100,000 in- 
habitants, today there are 48, where live nineteen millions of the 
people. In the early eighties more than two hundred thousand Ger- 
mans left the Fatherland annually for the United States, Australia, 
and Brazil. In the early 'teens not only has emigration practically 
ceased, but seven hundred thousand Poles and Russians are imported 
every year to harvest the crops consumed by the town-dwelling Ger- 
mans. The national wealth is estimated at some $16,000,000,000, a 
truly astonishing accumulation for only a generation of industrial life, 
for it is approximately equal to that of England, where the industrial 
revolution occurred seventy-five years earlier. The foreign investments 
of Germans run into the hundreds of millions. The imports for 1887 
were $781,175,000; for 1912, $2,530,140,000; the exports stand at 
$778,825,000 and $2,175,111,000. The shipping which is intimately 
connected with this expansion tells the same story. The 664 steamers 
of 420,605 tons in 1886 have increased to 2098 with 4,380,343 tons. The 
Hamburg-Amerika Line is the largest steamship company in the 
world, its Brobdingnagian "Imperator" the largest steamer for the 
moment, and its liners, together with those of the Norddeutscher 

102 The Fashion and Future of History 

Lloyd, are considered by many travellers the most comfortable and 
luxurious afloat. The production of pig iron, which stood at 3,600,000 
tons in 1885, had reached 10,000,000 in 1912, so that Germany stands 
second only to the United States in the iron and steel trades. The con- 
sumption of coal has increased fourfold. The chemical industries of 
Germany enjoy almost a monopoly of the world market, and their 
output is not less than $300,000,000 annually; they supply about ten 
percent of the total exports of the Empire. Even agriculture, which 
has had to meet the competition of the virgin soils of America, Can- 
ada, and Argentina, has flourished, thanks to a high tariff and other 
governmental measures. In short, there is not a single phase of Ger- 
man economic life which has not shown a development without par- 
allel. It is all the more creditable because Germany has had great odds 
to contend against — the long-established industries in England, its in- 
ferior communications with the outside world, and an unfavorable 
location of its coal and iron supplies. That Germany has become the 
second industrial and commercial state and has threatened to demolish 
the century-old supremacy of England is notorious: some have ex- 
plained the miracle by the adoption of a high tariff, and unquestion- 
ably the Bismarckian protection did enable innumerable industries to 
get on their feet. But their later triumphs are due rather to the lack 
of encumbering traditions, to a relentless scientific method and at- 
tention to detail, and above all to a discipline and energy which her 
rivals have been somewhat slow to imitate. 

It is now time to ask whether Germany has secured a corner on 
prosperity and whether the great progress of the present reign has 
created a sound economic framework. In the first place, other nations 
besides Germany have expanded their industrial and commercial 
girth, if indeed in lesser degree. The imports of the United Kingdom 
increased from $1,749,317,360 in 1888 to $4,071,818,495 in 1902; ex- 
ports rose from $1,343,335,085 to $3,220,716,975. Our own country has 
also done considerable foreign business. The distinction of Germany 
has been the rate of increase, and here is the point: that rate is rapidly 
falling. The Germans had to catch up with the start of seventy-five 
years obtained by England and of half a century by France and our- 
selves. Now that they have done so, the race will be much more even. 
British trade ceased to expand about 1890, while Germany's began, 
with one exception, the most remarkable period of its development, 
which continued until after 1903. By 1900 England was feeling the 

Germany in the Reign of William II 103 

effects of the Boer war. 1907 was a banner year the world over, but 
ended in panic, from which a complete recovery was not effected until 
1911. Let us study the following figures, which refer to millions of 








































































From this table it is quite clear that the advance of Germany in 
recent years, while still more rapid than that of England, is relatively 
much slower than in the period before 1903. But other considerations 
enter in. From 1890 to 1910 the population of Germany increased 
some 26 percent, that of the United Kingdom only 18 percent. Notice 
the following table showing the exports per head of the population. 

United Kingdom 














The advantage is apparently on the side of the English worker. Then 
there is the question of the rise of prices, by which free trade England 
has been less affected than any other country. But the figures for 
foreign trade are calculated according to the prices of their respective 
countries, and since prices have risen more in Germany, it follows that 
a mere comparison of figures does not furnish an accurate test of the 
commercial advance of the two countries. Not that England has 
effectively nullified the competition of Germany, but as a result of 
this very competition, slow-moving and conservative John Bull has at 
last bestirred himself and is holding his own. Leaving figures aside, 
this much is abundantly clear. In the early years of this century Eng- 
land was suffering from lassitude and the number of unemployed was 

104 The Fashion and Future of History 

increasing so rapidly that protection was felt by many to be its only 
salvation; Germany, on the other hand, seemed to be capturing the 
old markets of British trade the world over. Today the unemployed 
in Germany are numbered by the hundreds of thousands, whereas in 
England there is work for all who will work, the trade boom of the 
last few years shows no sign of abatement, and the foreign commerce 
of the United Kingdom increased in the year 1913 by the enormous 
sum of $302,500,000. In other words Germany must look to its laurels, 
and it is the opinion of some competent observers that a financial 
panic of the old-fashioned kind cannot long be delayed. 

Should such a calamity come about, and in the interests of the 
United States let us hope that it does not, it will have been caused by 
an undue expansion of credit. In their desire to acquire wealth rapidly, 
Germans have resorted to the familiar methods of the boom. The 
profits of one venture are immediately invested in another, and the 
balance of the required capital is raised abroad, usually in France. 
The dangers of this abnormal expansion were clearly seen in the 
Morocco crisis of 1911. When it became apparent that the German 
government proposed to press its claims to an extreme point, the 
French bankers called in their short-time loans to German industrials 
and a panic was threatened which would not only have prevented war 
but have undone the splendid achievements of forty years. At the 
crucial moment a delegation of German business men waited upon the 
Kaiser and practically forced him to choose between war and national 
bankruptcy. From that moment the negotiations with France were 
conducted in a more amicable spirit. Furthermore German banks are 
not required to keep large reserves, and no less than 55 percent of the 
deposits of the savings banks are locked up in mortgages upon which 
it would be impossible to realise in a time of crisis. Within the last 
year two governmental loans, one Prussian, the other Imperial, 
amounting together to several hundred millions of dollars, have been 
ignored by the investing public. In England these would have been 
taken up immediately by the savings banks, but in Germany the 
ready money was not to be had, or else German patriotism has sud- 
denly displayed an astonishing independence of government. 

The next point to which I wish to advert is the relation of economic 
progress to the welfare of the people. No one will question that the 
nation as a whole has prospered enormously. The growth of the 
population, the increased consumption of commodities of all sorts, 

Germany in the Reign of William II 105 

and the accumulation of nearly five billions of dollars in the savings 
banks attest the fact, were it not evident in the transformed face of the 
country, the improvement in dress and housing conditions, and the 
gratification of the desire for travel, in which the Germans are sur- 
passed only by the English. The average American, returning from a 
summer's tour in England and Germany, will probably assure the 
reporter that he was appalled by the poverty of Whitechapel and 
amazed by the solid comfort of the German workingmen. In some 
respects the comparison is true enough. But there is, I think, a wide- 
spread impression that modern Germany has succeeded in avoiding 
the evils of modern industrialism and large-scale enterprise without 
foregoing its advantages. Do not most of us believe that the German 
tariff is scientific and impartial, that the cartels and syndicates, as 
German trusts are called, are kept in order by an all-powerful govern- 
ment, and that the majestic fabric of social insurance erected by 
Prince Bismarck is a panacea for all the ills to which the flesh of 
workingmen is heir? It is this presumption which I wish to chal- 

As for the tariff, it may as well be admitted at once that it is 
as impartial and scientific as any tariff can be, with or without a tariff 
commission. It imposes duties which are not abnormally high on food- 
stuffs and manufactured articles, and leaves raw materials on the free 
lists. None the less the last five years have witnessed an extraordinary 
revolt against the protective system. Within a year of its formation 
the Hansabund, the purpose of which is to break down the present 
tariff, comprised 450 branches and its members are numbered by the 
million. The cost of living has increased nearly fifty percent in the 
last fifteen years, whereas in free trade England the advance has 
hardly averaged twenty percent. The cost of collecting the duties 
runs into hundreds of millions of dollars, and the State is said to 
receive only 25 percent of the increased cost, the rest going to 
the producers. A majority of the present Reichstag is committed 
to an immediate reduction of duties, and the Socialists, who repre- 
sent one-third of the voters, wish to abolish them at once. 

Then as to the trusts. Only a few of the German syndicates have 
reached the American stage of development, in which the ownership 
of a large number of establishments is merged in a single corpora- 
tion, but the distinction is academic. As long ago as 1905, there were 
more than 400 trusts in the Empire, and in 1906 the Austrian consul 

106 The Fashion and Future of History 

in Berlin reported to his government that fifty men controlled abso- 
lutely the economic life of the nation. The German syndicates have 
probably gone farther than our trusts in the development of profit- 
sharing schemes, and the law against stock-watering is rigidly enforced. 
But it has been conclusively proved that the syndicates have raised 
prices unduly; that they have sold raw and half-manufactured ma- 
terials abroad cheaper than at home, to the prejudice of both German 
producers and consumers; that under the aegis of protection they 
have deliberately kept production below national requirements in 
the interests of higher prices; and that they have reduced dealers 
and middlemen to a state of complete subjection. Ever since the 
cartels began to be formed, public opinion has been suspicious 
of them and the Reichstag would pass with alacrity a law subjecting 
them to state control. But the German government, unlike our own, 
does all in its power to encourage the trusts. It gives them preferential 
rates on its railways, it regards combination as an economic advan- 
tage and necessity, and it consistently declines to interfere in any 
respect, in spite of the fact that the Prussian state coal mines and 
potash deposits have been seriously injured by the respective trusts. 

With the details of the social insurance schemes it is not necessary 
to deal. Under the laws passed by Prince Bismarck, 25,000,000 work- 
men are insured against accident, 16,000,000 against old age and 
invalidity, and 14,000,000 against sickness. In the last two the 
state stands part of the expense, but otherwise it is divided between 
the employers and the workmen. The total cost since the beginning 
has been $1,800,000,000, and the annual payments now amount to 
$190,000,000. The burden upon employers is now some $36,000,000 
annually. In 1908 the Krupps paid out 13.6 percent of their net 
profits for this purpose, and some employers as much as 22 and 
47 percent. 

What is there to show for this terrific expenditure? Assuredly 
life has been prolonged and health protected, though the death rate 
is 17.2 per thousand as opposed to 14.6 in unregenerate England. Also 
factory conditions have been improved and medical science has been 
considerably advanced. But state insurance has failed lamentably 
in three respects. It has not brought social peace as Bismarck pre- 
dicted. Social democracy has increased pari passu with the extension 
of insurance. In 1910 there were 2109 strikes and 1121 lockouts 
affecting 687,000 persons. Poverty has not been eliminated. There 

Germany in the Reign of William II 107 

are still five thousand tramps in Germany, and in 1912 over one 
million persons were accommodated in the night shelters of Berlin 
alone. Lastly, social insurance has not brought about a better con- 
dition of health among the German masses. The percentage of con- 
scripts fit for military service declined nearly ten percent between 1902 
and 1910. In the last thirty years the population has increased forty 
percent, but the number of those who suffer from heart disease 
and rheumatism by 600 percent. Finally, in addition to the im- 
mense army of state officials required to administer the insurance 
schemes, the national character has deteriorated sadly. In 1907 the 
number of new pensioners was 380,819, but the days of sickness 
paid for by the authorities increased to the tune of 26,219,632. In 
other words, German workmen have discovered that it is highly 
profitable to be ill or to be disabled by accident. The late head of the 
Imperial Insurance Office, who retired after twenty years' service, 
has stated in a fifty-page pamphlet that social insurance as practiced 
in Germany is a hotbed of fraud and abuse and a positive breeder 
of pauperism. If the efficient Germans cannot devise a satisfactory 
system, the task must be hopeless, and social reformers would do 
well to think twice before they impose upon American workingmen 
a species of nostra which will make them the sport of a meddling 
government. 1 

The socialistic enterprises of German governments are very inter- 
esting, such as the taxation of unearned increment by municipalities; 
or the state railways, which are supposed to be very efficient and are 
certainly profitable, but which are often complained against by 
shippers and do not hesitate to grant differential rates. We must pass 
on to a very brief survey of German finances. At the beginning of 
the present reign the expenditures of the imperial government 
stood at $183,000,000, and the debt, all of which had been con- 
tracted since 1877, at $145,000,000. Today the figures are $800,000,000 
for expenditure, $1,131,000,000 for the funded debt, an increase of 
nearly 6,000 and 1,000 percent respectively. Likewise the separate 
states and the municipalities have increased their expenditures and 
borrowings. The total debt of all the governments in Germany in 
1910 amounted to $6,420,000,000, practically all accumulated since 
1870, and actually larger than the total indebtedness of the United 

i In I960 I feel differently about Social Security! 

108 The Fashion and Future of History 

Kingdom, which includes the cost of all the wars waged by the 
British Crown since 1694. It is quite true that the German govern- 
ments have bonded themselves for state railways and various enter- 
prises, many of which bring in handsome returns. But even if all such 
loans are written off, the remainder is sufficiently large for a young 
nation. Two facts cannot be ignored. First, for the past twenty years, 
there has been a constant excess of expenditure over revenue, and 
the deficit had been met by borrowing; and second, the last attempt 
to float loans has been unsuccessful. Not even the United States 
government could go on indefinitely under such a system. A country 
which is increasing in wealth as rapidly as Germany can bear con- 
siderable new taxation, but it is not agreed as to who shall be taxed. 
The Socialists and Radicals would like to tap the fortunes of the 
rich by increasing the income tax and by a progressive inheritance 
tax, but the Conservatives and Clericals, from whom the govern- 
ment takes its majority, are firmly opposed to such proceedings. Their 
plan is to increase the import duties. Meanwhile nothing has been 
done except to add new taxes upon liquors of all kinds, tobacco, 
matches, railway tickets, and other necessities of the masses. The sit- 
uation was revealed a year ago when the government determined 
upon an increase of the army. The problem was to find $312,000,000 
with which to equip the new troops and an annual revenue of $50,- 
000,000 to support them. It was proposed to raise the former by a tax 
of one-half of one to two percent on the capital value of all property 
above $2,500, and the latter by a poll tax of thirty-one cents per 
head. The Reichstag made some modifications, but the tax is down- 
right confiscation, and there are 136,000 fewer men to help replace 
the loss. No wonder that the Bavarian premier has dared to raise 
his voice against further increases of armaments. 

If it be added that increased taxation, the high cost of living, and 
the spread of luxury have led to a marked decrease of the birth rate, 
our survey of economic conditions is finished. Whether the imperial 
government will be able to ensure to the Kaiser an increasing supply 
of soldiers remains to be seen, but Germans are evidently worried by 
the problem, and we may leave them to wrestle with it. 

The political situation is as unsatisfactory as the economic. Bis- 
marck, says an English publicist, "found his country politically 
anarchic, but morally united; he left it with a semblance of political 
union and a plague of moral anarchy that has become increasingly 

Germany in the Reign of William II 109 

apparent since the veil of his personality has been removed from the 
facts". With all allowance for the prejudice which inspired the re- 
mark, we are bound to admit the truth of this indictment. Fifty years 
ago men were willing to sacrifice everything to German unity: 
today, after forty years of the new Empire, sectionalism is rampant 
and ill-concealed by the gilded trappings of the imperial edifice. 
Germany, like ancient Gaul, is divided into three parts. East of the 
Elbe lie the Mark of Brandenburg and the provinces taken from 
Poland. Won by the sword and retained by the energies of German 
colonists, these lands are the heart of the Prussian monarchy. They 
are thinly populated, given over to agriculture, backward in develop- 
ment, and dominated by the landed nobility, who exercise rights 
handed down from the middle ages. These gentlemen were described 
by Bismarck himself, who was one of them and knew the breed, 
as "the most reactionary class in Europe". Devoted to king, army, 
and church, whether Lutheran or Catholic, they are the pillars of 
the autocracy, they almost detest the Empire lest Prussia should 
be absorbed in Germany, as promised by Frederick William IV in 
1848, and they look with bitter contempt upon the ravages of modern 
industrialism. Along the Rhine are the provinces secured by Prussia 
after the Napoleonic wars. Here are located the great industries which 
are the glory of modern Germany. The teeming population is a 
whirlpool of social democracy, and the eternal enemy of junker 
privilege. Then there is South Germany, which is best described 
as non-Prussian, if not anti-Prussian. It joined the Empire reluctantly, 
and finds the Prussian spirit distasteful to its liberal and democratic 
ideas. Several years ago a friend of mine entered a cafe in Munich, 
where he found a seat with difficulty. A fire-eater at the table accused 
him of being an Englishman. Confessing his American origin, he 
remarked that his interlocutor must be a Prussian. The most up- 
roarious applause greeted this sally, and my friend was the guest of 
the company for the evening. 

This lack of any real unity among the people of Germany is at the 
bottom of the autocratic regime imposed upon them from above. 
The history of England teaches that self-government and national 
unity go hand in hand, but German statesmen, recalling the long 
centuries of disunion and weakness, are afraid to test the new-born 
unity by experiments in self-government. They have yet to learn 
that unity is most quickly achieved in this progressive age by an 

110 The Fashion and Future of History 

appeal to the orderly instincts of men, and that sectionalism is 
perpetuated precisely because the non-Prussian elements distrust 
the Prussianising policy of the imperial government. Hence it is that 
the Reichstag sits powerless in the palace guarded by the statue 
of Bismarck. Elected by universal suffrage and endowed with the 
right to pass laws and levy taxes, it is little more than a debating 
society. Five times has it learned that resistance and opposition to the 
Imperial will is countered by a dissolution, and that in the election 
of a new assembly the malcontents will be pilloried as traitors and 
bidden to leave a country they cannot appreciate. Germany is gov- 
erned by the Bundesrat or Federal Council, which is an assembly 
of diplomats representing not the people, but the governments of the 
federated states. This body originates all legislation, directs policy, 
and is dominated by Prussia. Since the fall of Bismarck the imperial 
chancellor has been a mere tool of the Emperor, to whom alone 
he is responsible. Likewise the ministers are simply heads of depart- 
ments and have no contact with the Reichstag except when they 
choose to address it. There is, in short, no way for the people of 
Germany to limit the action of their government except by open 
rebellion, which would be futile against an army of nearly a million 

If further support for this mailed fist rule were needed, it would 
be found in the bureaucracy of two million officials, which regulates 
the life of the German people to the last detail, even to the point of 
inspecting bedticks and the prohibition of whistling in public. Its 
latest exploit is to prosecute a man for sneezing in the street. No 
meeting may be held without police supervision, the press is zealously 
censored where it is not inspired, and more things are forbidden 
by ubiquitous notices than are dreamed of in our philosophy. That 
the people exist for officials to govern is the maxim of this omnipo- 
tent and omniscient machine, the higher ranks of which are re- 
cruited almost exclusively from an aristocracy to whom decora- 
tions and titles are the staff of life. It cannot be denied that the 
German people as a whole accept this deadening tradition without 
a murmur. But what a commentary upon their education! The 
far-famed German schools turn out walking encyclopedias who 
are exceedingly proficient at obeying, but whose character-formation 
is left entirely to accidental influences. Not even in Russia are indi- 
viduality and independence so dwarfed, and in no country in Europe 

Germany in the Reign of William II 111 

do the people count for so little. It is significant that there is no 
national sport, and that the military classes receive reduced rates on 
the railways. Once in Constantinople I saw a group of dogs in front 
of the German post office: their alignment was perfect, and they were 
indifferent to exhortation. So it is with the German people. 

I have examined the institutions of modern Germany with some 
care because they explain why the progress toward a solution of the 
four great political problems has been negligible in the reign of 
William II. First, there is the question of the four disaffected prov- 
inces, Posen, Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, and Alsace-Lorraine. Posen 
was Prussia's share of the loot in the third partition of Poland. 
Since 1886 enormous efforts have been made to destroy Polish na- 
tionality by forbidding the use of the Polish language and by settling 
German colonists in the land. It has cost $120,000,000 to establish 
110,000 people, and the natives are still bitterly anti-German. Schles- 
wig-Holstein and Hanover were annexed by Prussia in the wars 
against Denmark and Austria. Their delegates to the Reichstag are 
consistently anti-Prussian, and despite the revival of the Duchy 
of Brunswick for the Kaiser's new son-in-law, the Guelf family have 
not renounced their rights and claims. In Alsace and Lorraine, 
taken from France in 1871, the Gallic spirit remains unquenched. 
Official policy has alternated between repression and conciliation, 
but to no avail. The constitution granted in 1911 leaves the reality 
of power in Berlin, and had better been refused. The Kaiser himself 
admitted the failure of the Prussian regime by recently threatening 
to incorporate the provinces in Prussia, as if that were the worst 
punishment imaginable. 

Any friendliness which may have grown up will be extinguished 
by the Zabern episode. Several months ago an ardent lieutenant 
made disrespectful remarks about the inhabitants of this garrison 
town because of their attachment to France. The populace began 
to pester him with similar compliments, and the gallant officer took 
to shopping with an escort of soldiers with fixed bayonets. One day 
he struck with his sabre a lame shoemaker who brushed him in the 
street. An uproar followed, the colonel of the regiment proclaimed 
martial law, and threatened to "shoot up" the town. A man was 
arrested for laughing, and also several governmental official? who 
protested against the suppression of the civil authority. The climax 
of this ridiculous episode was a court martial which exonerated the 

112 The Fashion and Future of History 

officers, and formally sustained the pretensions of the military. Now 
the dashing colonel has received the Order of the Red Eagle. Thus 
on every hand the Prussianizing policy has failed, as every such 
policy must fail which sins against the eternal facts of national life 
and character, and these provinces which contain one-eighth of the 
population continue to be a permanent centrifugal force. 

The next problem is that of the Prussian franchise, which even 
Bismarck admitted was wretched and absurd. There is manhood 
suffrage, but the voters are divided into three classes according to 
the amount of taxes they pay. The largest taxpayers who together 
pay one-third of the taxes form the first class; the next largest class 
paying another third form the second class; and the mass of the 
people the third.. As each class chooses the same number of electors 
who in turn choose the representatives, the well-to-do and rich control 
the Prussian parliament. The following table illustrating the election 
is more eloquent than any words of mine. Despite the liveliest dis- 
content on the part of the Prussian people this system remains from 
generation to generation, and the laws of the Medes and Persians 
were not more sacred than this hypocritical franchise in the eyes of 
the privileged voters. 


113 7 

94 104 

76 19 

67 152 

60 65 

22 36 

11 60 

2,360,247 443" 443" 

Then there is the antiquated distribution of seats. In 1871 the 
population of Germany was 39,700,000, and one representative was 
accorded for every 100,000 people. Since then the population has 
grown to 66,000,000, and what is more important, has shifted. The 
Rhineland is thick with artisans, the eastern provinces are thinly 
populated by the agricultural element. Yet there has been no re- 
arrangement of seats. Thus Berlin has only six representatives instead 
of the twenty which its two million inhabitants deserve. One Berlin 
district contains as many as 800,000 people, while some in the country 



Social Democrats 


Catholic Centre 






National Liberals 




Free Conservatives 


Germany in the Reign of William II 113 

as few as 14,000. As the rural constituencies always return conservative 
deputies, the government is opposed to any change, and the Reichstag 
is powerless. In the election of 1907 the Social Democrats secured 
one seat for every 75,000 votes, the National Liberals one for every 
30,000, the Centre for 20,000, and the Conservatives for 18,000. 
The government does not deign to notice this grievance; it simply 
ignores it. 

Finally the question of ministerial responsibility is still on the tapis. 
Bismarck was confronted by it in 1877, and succeeding chancellors 
have had it dinned into their ears by orators galore. But all of them 
have calmly ridiculed it. It is really the most pressing of all questions, 
for if the chancellor were responsible to the Reichstag, the present 
institutions of Germany could be made over by vote of that body. 
Only out-and-out revolution, I venture to think, will bring about 
this change. 2 The commons of England had to cut off the head of 
one king and drive his son from the throne before they secured even 
partial control of the executive. France indulged in three revolutions 
for the same end. In Germany the ascendancy of Prussia is secured 
only by making the chancellor irresponsible to the Reichstag and 
the tool of the Prussian king. Let the Reichstag choose the chancellor, 
and that mouth-piece of the Emperor may very easily be his bitterest 
opponent. The Prussian army will have to be humbled before the 
parliamentary system is established, and it is more likely that the 
Emperor will follow the advice of a well-known conservative and 
send a lieutenant with ten soldiers "to close up the Reichstag". 

Under such conditions of political life it is obvious that political 
parties, with the exception of the Conservatives, who have a perpetual 
lease of power, cannot pretend to the same importance as the great 
organizations of England and America. They can not change one jot 
or one tittle of the law of custom; they can merely "wait and see", 
as Mr. Asquith has put it, what the government intends to do. But in 
spite of this unreality it would be a profound mistake to suppose 
that party struggles and general elections are void of significance. 
Once every five years the public opinion of the Empire finds a free 
outlet, and its trend in the reign of William II has been unmistak- 
able. Not only has there been a distinct verging to the left, but in the 

2 Five years later it came about, on October 1, 1918 — just three days before 
the German government appealed to President Wilson for an armistice. 

114 The Fashion and Future of History 

present year of grace the Socialists are the largest, wealthiest, and 
most highly organized party in the country. At the elections of 
January 1912 they polled 4,250,000 votes and returned 110 out of 
397 members. 

It must not be thought, however, that a third of the German peo- 
ple are advocates of Socialism. The Social Democratic party is not 
an engine of revolution, but a party of protest, which is milder in 
its demands than our own progressive party of happy memory. There 
are about one million genuine Socialists who pay dues to the party 
organization, but even they are content to advocate political rather 
than social reforms. A parliamentary system, a redistribution of 
seats, reform of the Prussian franchise, freedom of speech and of the 
press, disestablishment, free, compulsory and secular education, wom- 
an's rights, and control of peace and war by the Reichstag— these 
are the main planks in their platform. Free legal proceedings, free 
medical attendance and burial, and the raising of all revenue by pro- 
gressive income and inheritance taxes are the only points which can 
by the wildest imagination be connected with socialist propaganda. 
Marxian socialism may be the ultimate goal, but at present little 
is said about it, because otherwise the millions of well-to-do who 
vote the Socialist ticket would be alarmed. When the Conservative 
party issues election manifestoes against "the red peril of socialism" 
and government newspapers speak of "a peril for the national unity 
of our people", they are talking the most arrant nonsense. At the 
present time the Social Democrats demand little more than the con- 
trol of the German government by the German people, a control 
which will do more to consolidate the nation than ail the soldiers 
and all the Dreadnoughts demanded by the military classes. In 1890 
the Emperor William told Bismarck to leave the Socialists to him: 
he knew how to deal with them. Here are the results of His Majesty's 





























Germany in the Reign of William II 115 

Owing to special circumstances there was a relative decline in 1907, 
despite an increase in votes, but the loss was more than repaired in 
the elections of 1912. 

The Centre or clerical party is not a political party of the usual 
type. It developed during the Bismarckian persecution of the Cath- 
olic church, and has been maintained to protect the interests of 
that church. It cuts across the ordinary political animosities, for it 
is agrarian, semi-socialistic, particularist, or nationalistic, according 
to the locality. In the present reign it has never sent fewer than 91 
representatives to the Reichstag, and has always combined with 
the Conservatives to furnish the government with a majority. It is 
essentially opportunist, but as long as the Socialists are beyond the 
pale, it holds the whiphand. 

The disruption of this Blue-Black Block was one of the issues 
of the elections of 1912. Others were the whole protective system, 
especially the duties on foodstuffs and the prohibition of foreign 
meats; and the question of armaments. The foreign policy of the 
government was bitterly criticised, but only the Radicals and Socialists 
opposed an increase of armaments. The following table will show 
not only the results of the elections, but the course of party fortunes 
since 1890. 

1890 1893 1898 1903 1907 1912 






















Natl Liberals 




























Even the Socialists themselves were astonished by their success, which 
would have been greater but for the distribution of seats. 

Yet the new Reichstag has proved as complaisant as all the others. 
It has obediently voted large increases of the army, the appropriations 
being secured through the help of the Socialists, who declined to let 
slip an opportunity for taxing capital even though the working 
classes must suffer most from the additional military burdens. The 
truth is that the Social Democrats have not learned practical politics. 
An alliance between them, the Radicals, and the Nationalists would 

116 The Fashion and Future of History 

create a block of 187, or almost a majority of the Reichstag, and they 
would draw many National Liberals to them. But the Social Demo- 
crats decline to co-operate with any representatives of the black- 
coated white-collared classes, and the government marches serenely 
on. Perhaps the time will come when the Socialists will secure an 
absolute majority of the Reichstag, but before that the government 
will probably restrict the suffrage in such a way that only those who 
accept the existing regime will be allowed to vote. France would 
speedily find a solution for the problem, but Germany's one ex- 
perience with revolution in 1848 was such that this expedient will 
be postponed to the Greek kalends. Personally, I can see no hope for 
a more liberal regime in Germany until tyranny and oppression 
have made over the German character. 

The foreign policy of Germany in the Guilelmian era is a topic 
bristling with controversy and full of pitfalls for the student. In 
economic matters one may reckon from the official figures; domestic 
politics are also intelligible enough to a perservering observer; but 
in the domain of high policy it is almost impossible to get beneath 
the surface. The motives which animate and the ambitions which 
dominate not Germany alone but all the nations of the world defy 
accurate analysis, for the simple reason that the said nations do 
not proclaim their intentions from the housetops, and any responsible 
statement is subjected to such meticulous criticism by foreign publi- 
cists as to be almost useless. Even the very course of events is dis- 
puted. The following account of German diplomacy is therefore a 
tentative one, which may be revised at any time in the light of new 

Its main currents in the reign of William II would seem to have 
been (1) a maintenance of the Bismarckian tradition; (2) the rise 
of the Pan-German movement; (3) the emergence of a world policy; 
(4) an inability to reconcile these somewhat conflicting aspirations; 
and (5) as an inevitable corollary, a reckless and inhuman piling-up 
of armaments. 

With respect to the Bismarckian tradition, it is necessary to dis- 
tinguish between policy and methods. Bismarck was too clear-headed 
not to see that the older nations regarded Germany as a parvenu, 
and that nothing was to be gained by a policy of bluster. In his eyes, 
the best guarantee of German hegemony in Europe lay in the division 
of its enemies, and especially in the diversion of French energies away 

Germany in the Reign of William II 117 

from a war of revenge. He utilised the Balkan situation to intensify 
the traditional hostility between Austria and Russia, the opening up 
of Africa to sow distrust between Italy and France and to breed 
animosity between France and England (and troubles in Central 
Asia to make bad blood between England and Russia.) In addition, 
he contracted a strict alliance with Austria, which later included 
Italy, kept the wire open to St. Petersburg by a secret convention, 
and co-operated with England by accepting its maritime supremacy. 
Thus France was isolated, and Germany secured its share of the 
good things in Africa. 

The first act of William II after the dismissal of the Iron Chancel- 
lor was to repudiate the convention with Russia, whereupon the 
Tsar promptly came to terms with France and rescued the Republic 
from twenty years of isolation. The Dual Alliance counteracted the 
Triple, to the intense chagrin of Bismarck, whose work since 1871 
was thus largely undone. William II has since flirted now with the 
Tsar, now with France, but the Dual Alliance remains unshaken. 

On the other hand, the German foreign office has sedulously en- 
deavored to imitate the methods of Bismarck. That is, it has created 
situations in the hope of fishing in troubled waters, it has developed 
a splendid capacity for ignoring or twisting treaties in the best 
Bismarckian style, and it has attempted to dictate the public law 
of Europe, without, however, recognising the limitations which the 
old chancellor deliberately imposed upon himself. This attitude of 
the Wilhelmstrasse, coupled with a fearful lack of good manners, is 
in no small degree responsible for the bad reputation which Germany 
has earned for itself in recent years. The constant fear of a second 
Bismarck can be dispelled only by a frankness and honesty which 
has so far been a detestable hersey with the fussy bureaucrats of 
the German foreign office. 

The Pan-German movement starts from the fact that of the eighty- 
odd millions of Germans in Europe, fewer than seventy millions 
enjoy the blessings conferred by the new Empire. Ten millions reside 
in Austria, a few more in Bohemia, where they are intermingled with 
the Czechs, and some others in the Baltic provinces. Then the Dutch 
are of the Teutonic race, and their fertile lands not only once 
belonged to Germany, but actually control the mouths of the German 
Rhine. Why should not these peoples and these lands revert to their 
ancient allegiance, and thus complete the union of all Germans 

118 The Fashion and Future of History 

in one Fatherland? Various overseas possessions, such as Dutch South 
Africa and southern Brazil, might conveniently be added if the 
cards were properly shuffled. The little detail that the present 
possessors of these regions might object was of no concern to the 
apostles of militarism who conceived this enchanting picture of a 
greater Germany. Rattle the sabre, and use it if necessary, became 
the axiom of these paper strategists, who made up in vociferation 
what they lacked in popular enthusiasm. Bismarck was wont to de- 
clare that Germany was "saturated": the Pan-Germanists insist that he 
stopped half way. 

For various reasons, Pan-Germanism is hardly a practicable issue. 
The people of Germany have never displayed much sympathy with 
the idea, the government has now and again repudiated it, and its 
fallacies are self-evident. Is Bohemia to be included in Pan-Germany, 
and the Czechs added to the number of Slav irreconcilables, or if 
only Austria proper is taken over, are the Germans of Bohemia to 
be left to the tender mercies of Russia, towards whose orbit Bohemia 
would inevitably gravitate? But there can be little doubt that most 
Germans would welcome the incorporation of Holland and perhaps 
the Flemish provinces of Belgium, which would be a declaration 
of war against France and England. It is obviously difficult to estimate 
the real strength of a movement which is only one of many political 
issues agitating the Fatherland, but two tendencies may be noted. 

First, the Pan-German propaganda is carried on spasmodically, 
but each outburst has been followed by militant proceedings at the 
foreign office, and a period of great tension between the European 
Powers. This would seem to indicate more sympathy with the move- 
ment in high places than is commonly admitted, but such a conclusion 
is frankly inferential. 

Second, the German army has been repeatedly increased without 
provocation from its neighbors, until today its peace strength is not 
far short of a million men. The armies of other states have indeed 
been augmented, but in every case the increase has been a reply 
to the German initiative. The German Emperor may be perfectly 
sincere in his peace profession, and he has kept the peace for twenty- 
five years. But why constantly add to an army already superior to its 
rivals, not one of whom would dare attack it? The statesmen of 
Europe cannot help believing that some day, especially when the 
the chauvinistic Crown Prince becomes Emperor, efforts will be made 

Germany in the Reign of William II 119 

to realise the Pan-German program, wholly or in part, and they 
are bound to prepare for every emergency. If there is any one man 
who above all others has forced Europe to turn itself into a vast 
parade ground, that person is His Majesty the German Emperor. 
And before disarmament can become a reality, a great prophet must 
arise from beyond Germany who shall convince the Kaiser and his 
henchmen, intrenched as they are in a citadel of privilege, that 
militarism is incompatible with a healthy national life. 

The third and by far the most spectacular phase of German 
diplomacy has been the development of a world policy, which shall 
ensure the nation its "place in the sun", as the Emperor never tires 
of repeating. The motives of German imperialism were genuine 
enough. The economic system produced a surplus of goods which 
must be marketed abroad, and created capital faster than domestic 
industries could absorb it. The demand to share in the partition of 
Africa was quite legitimate and was recognised by the other Powers. 
But the acquisition of German South-West Africa, German East 
Africa, and the Cameroons whetted the national appetite, for which 
the imagination of the Kaiser and the zeal of innumerable pam- 
phleteers has conjured up a great colonial empire comparable to 
that of France or England. Unfortunately for Germany, and just 
here is the rub, there are no lands left for Germany. By 1890, when 
Weltpolitik had become popular with the masses, practically the 
whole of Africa had been occupied or staked oft, and there were 
left only those regions of Asia and Africa where non-Christian peo- 
ples live under feeble governments and decadent civilizations— China, 
Persia, Turkey, and Morocco. It is now evident, though Germans 
will not admit it, that Bismarck over-reached himself: he played 
England against France so successfully that together they appro- 
priated the very lands which Germans had ear-marked as their own. 
Now the patriots attempt to visit the sins of their hero upon the 
very countries which profited by them, and loudly declare that on 
every hand Germany is being restricted by the jealousy of France 
and England. All this is solemn flapdoodle, but no amount of arguing 
or evidence to the contrary will cure the national jaundice of a dis- 
appointed people. One can only state the solemn fact that in these 
half -barbarous lands invaded by European capital and adventurers 
in the last twenty years Germany has filched quite as much as any of 
her rivals. 

120 The Fashion and Future of History 

Thus in China the port of Kiaochou was secured as an indemnity 
for the murder of two missionaries. Samoa was the subject of con- 
siderable argument with Britain and ourselves, but in the end 
Germany got two out of five islands. Various other islands in the 
Pacific were acquired by arbitration or occupation, and the British 
government made no objection to a German establishment on the 
island of New Guinea. Lastly in the final settlement of the Morocco 
question, the French government ceded to Germany an enormous 
tract of land in West Central Africa which will make an excellent 
spring board for further leaps. The total area of the foreign de- 
pendencies of Germany is now 1,130,000 square miles with a popula- 
tion of 15,000,000. Compared with the far-flung dominions of Great 
Britain, France and Russia, overseas Germany is of course a mere 
bagatelle, but thirty years ago there were no German colonies, and 
its great rivals have been in the game for three hundred years, 
during most of which Germany was a mere geographical expression. 
If we add that part of the Portuguese colonies is destined to become 
German and that Mesopotamia will be bagged in the final extinction 
of Turkey, it is clear that the effulgence of imperial Germany is 
scarcely as dim as we have been asked to believe. 

German Weltpolitik has achieved its greatest success in the lands 
of the Sultan, that sick man whose mortal illness has lasted some 
sixty years since it was first diagnosed by the Tsar Nicholas I. Bis- 
marck used to declare that the Eastern Question was not worth the 
bones of a Pomeranian grenadier, but William II has thought 
differently. In 1897 the famous Baron Marschall von Bieberstein was 
sent as ambassador to Constantinople, where he reigned supreme for 
fifteen years. German concessionaries were royally treated, German 
goods began to supplant those of England in popular estimation, 
regular lines of German steamers linked up the Turkish ports, Ger- 
man officers were called in to rejuvenate the Sultan's army, and 
above all the concession for the Bagdad railway was secured on 
terms perhaps disastrous to Turkish finances, but very profitable 
to German shareholders. It is not possible here to discuss the merits 
of this particular concession, which has so alarmed the French and 
the British; the world, however, has a lasting interest in its success. 
The line is to run from Constantinople across the Anatolian plateau 
to Bagdad and ultimately to the Persian gulf. Branch lines will be 
built to Alexandretta on the gulf of Adana, and to the Persian system 

Germany in the Reign of William II 121 

when that is constructed by the Russian government. The regen- 
erating influence of the iron horse will bring life again to this quon- 
dam garden spot of the earth, especially when the irrigation schemes 
of Sir William Willcocks are completed. In spite of many obstacles 
the line is being pushed forward, and the future historian would 
probably regard its completion as the brightest ornament of the 
reign of William II. 8 

A few words as to Morocco. The last independent state of Africa 
Minor, the Shereefian Empire, had long been the arena of European 
intrigue, without falling a prey to it. But in April 1904 France and 
England signed a convention which recognised the English occupation 
of Egypt and the predominance of France in Morocco. The German 
government accepted the arrangement cordially, but as it put an 
end to the long hostility of the contracting parties, the Emperor 
William II suddenly landed at Tangier in March 1905 and declared 
formally for the independence of Morocco, which was ostensibly 
taken under German protection. War nearly followed, but in the 
end an international conference turned the country over to France 
and Spain as the agents of the great Powers. The German government 
seemed to accept the fait accompli, for in February 1909 it signed a 
convention with France which distinctly admitted the political inter- 
ests of France and guaranteed to Germany equal treatment in eco- 
nomic matters. France now adopted an aggressive policy that cul- 
minated in tribal revolts, which in turn led to a French occupation 
of Fez. This proved too much for Germany, which asserted that its 
economic interests were threatened, as probably they were, and a 
cruiser was despatched to Agadir, where, incidentally, European 
ships had no right to be, as it was a closed port. Three months of 
crisis, during which war was averted only by the resolute interven- 
tion of England, led to a settlement which it is devoutly to be hoped 
will be lasting. France secured its protectorate over Morocco in 
return for the cessions in Central Africa already referred to, and 
Germany was given guarantees for the maintenance of the open door, 
a principle consistently championed by it. Many well-informed per- 
sons believe that Germany's real ambition was to share in a par- 
tition of the Morocco whose independence and integrity it had 
promised to maintain, and that it has not yet given up its designs; 

3 Not completed until after the First World War. 

122 The Fashion and Future of History 

but the evidence is conflicting, and for the moment all is quiet. The 
Moroccan disputes have neither improved nor aggravated the rela- 
tions of France and Germany. For more than a thousand years, 
which are but as yesterday in their sight, the two nations have fought 
over the valley of the Rhine. Germany did indeed dismember France 
in 1871, but even Alsace and Lorraine do not atone for all the sins 
of France, and in my humble opinion, "a firm and lasting peace", 
as the language of treaties has it, will not soon be established between 
the most persistent enemies in the long history of Europe. 

The quarrel of Germany with England, on the other hand, is but 
a passing phase of contemporary politics, which has well-nigh if 
not altogether run its course. We have already seen that the indus- 
trial and commercial advance of the Fatherland was and still is 
more rapid than that of the United Kingdom, and in this blatantly 
commercial age, it is natural enough that the traditional friendship 
dating from the days of Frederick the Great should be weakened. 
But this alone would hardly have led to extreme tension: Anglo- 
American relations have steadily improved in spite of increasing 
commercial competition. Two quite different factors are responsible 
for the breach. 

Bismarck disliked England and particularly "Professor" Gladstone, 
but he was willing to co-operate with it under ordinary circumstances. 
Since 1890, however, the Wilhelmstrasse has managed to cross the 
British government at every available opportunity. Whether it was 
the Armenian massacres and the Cretan question of the 'nineties, the 
interpretation of treaties in the Far East, the position of France in 
Morocco, or of Austria in the Balkans, Germany and England have 
taken opposing views. In many cases there was a real clash of inter- 
ests, but the Kaiser's telegram to President Kruger after the Jameson 
raid and the fierce abuse of everything English during the Boer war 
has accentuated the psychological aspects of the quarrel. A few years 
ago war semed unavoidable, not because there was any issue to fight 
about, which fact was perhaps the root of the evil, but because the 
two nations had been lashed into a frenzy of mutal hatred which was 
deliberately abetted by the fishers in troubled waters. The Germans 
grew jealous of the imperial heritage of Britain, and the English 
resented that any one should dare to dispute the ascendancy they 
had exercised for almost two hundred years. 

The real danger lay in the naval rivalry. The very life of England 

Germany in the Reign of William II 123 

depends upon its navy. Drawing the food for its people and the 
raw materials for its factories from every corner of the globe, the 
island kingdom is bound to maintain a supreme navy. To lose com- 
mand of the sea is to throw England open to invasion, starvation, 
and annihilation, and Germany has seen fit to challenge the mistress 
of the seas. Beginning in 1900 a series of naval laws has been passed 
which will provide the Empire in 1920 with sixty-one first-class 
battleships, ten armored cruisers, and an elaborate flotilla of torpedo 
and auxiliary craft. When completed, this fleet will be the most 
powerful aggregation of warships in the history of nations. In other 
words, the mightiest military state of our age is striking for nothing 
less than the control of the world. That Germany should succeed 
in this effort is unthinkable, and thanks to the inflexible determina- 
tion of England, it will not. The reply of the British peoples has 
been magnificent. From every corner of the Empire have come pre- 
sents of battleships and battle cruisers, and under the pressure of the 
German menace, the British Empire is fast becoming a reality. 

"The night is full of darkness and doubt, 

The stars are dim and the Hunters out; 

The waves begin to wrestle and moan; 

The Lion stands by his shore alone 

And sends, to the bounds of Earth and Sea, 

First low notes of the thunder to be. 

Then East and West, through the vastness grim, 

The whelps of the Lion answer him." 

The Germans have been taught to believe that England is a land 
of fossilised inefficiency whose material resources are on the verge 
of exhaustion: yet British budgets have easily borne the tremendous 
new naval expenses, which have played such havoc with German 
finances. The British fleet will continue to be the surest guardian of 
the peace of Europe. 

It is a bitter pill for the Emperor William II to swallow, for the 
fleet is emphatically his creation. Until he told the Germans on 
a famous occasion that their future lay on the water, they were 
content with the Bismarckian glories. But His Majesty, seeing 
how his splendid liners must pass beneath the guns of Dover Castle 
or around the rock of Gibraltar, imagined that to protect them, 
Germany, to quote the naval act of 1^00, "must possess a fleet of 

124 The Fashion and Future of History 

such strength that even for the mightiest naval Power, a war with 
her would involve such risks as to jeopardise its own supremacy". 
Thus to the actual challenge was added a gratuitous insult, which 
served the purpose of arousing England to the real situation. The 
following figures of the distribution of British fleets will show how 
real is the fear of German designs. 

In the Mediterranean In the North Sea 
1904 202,000 tons Practically none 

1907 135,000 166,000 tons 

1909 123,000 427,000 

1912 126,000 481,000 

1913 50,090 500,000 

It has been stated officially on innumerable occasions that Germany 
does not aim at a fleet superior to that of England, but in its actions 
it has strained every nerve to achieve this. Three times in the last 
seven years the British government has endeavored to effect a limita- 
tion of armaments, and Germany alone of all the powers of Europe, 
has refused its assent. As the creator of the German navy, William II 
is entitled to the enthusiastic devotion of his people, but in at- 
tempting to outdo Napoleon, he deserves the execration of the 
civilised world. 

Of late the relations of England and Germany have improved, and 
really give little cause for concern. During the late Balkan wars 
they worked harmoniously and successfully to restrain their belliger- 
ent friends or allies. The Baghdad railway dispute is approaching 
a solution, and it is by no means impossible that another five years 
will witness a resumption of cordial relations. 

Germany and Russia are often regarded as potential enemies, and 
their peoples do cordially hate one another. The imperial chancellor, 
Dr. von Bethmann Hollweg, demanded the recent increase of the 
army because of an inevitable struggle between Deutschtum and 
Slaventum. The assumption is not justified unless Germany intends 
to precipitate the conflict. Of all the governments in Europe that 
of Russia is the least belligerent, and now that Turkey has fallen 
a prey to the Balkan states, there is no reason why Germany and 
Russia should resort to the ultima ratio. 

With the United States the German government has, since the 
gasconnades of Manila Bay, managed to preserve tolerably cordial 

Germany in the Reign of William II 125 

relations, but public opinion, so far as it is reflected in the press 
and notably that of Berlin, is violently hostile. There is no institution 
or feature of our life, public or private, no policy of our government 
and no public officer from the President down that is not constantly 
ridiculed or abused by the young lions of Prussian journalism, 
whose prejudice, ignorance, and jealousy is equalled only by their 
almighty cocksureness and disgusting conceit. Not even the Panama 
Canal is exempt from the vitriol, though it means much to German 
trade. When I first began to read these diatribes, my blood boiled 
and my astonishment was immense; but I can now recommend them 
as an excellent sedative for tired nerves and an unfailing source of 

Our account of German diplomacy would be incomplete without 
a brief reference to its vacillating character. It has been everything 
by shorts and nothing long, which is just what to expect from the 
restless energy of its dictator. To this day no one in France or 
England and probably very few persons in Germany know exactly 
what Germany wants in the world. Its public men give expression 
alternately to honeyed words of peaceful promise and the most 
truculent threats of impending war. Thus General von Bernhardi, in 
his book, Germany and the Next War, says frankly that Germany 
wants more territories for her people and new markets for her in- 
dustry, and that it will take them by right of might. His only qualifi- 
cation is thus stated: "It must therefore be the duty of our diplomacy 
so to shuffle the cards as to compel France to attack us", and he 
concludes with the following words: "As long as we are afraid to 
be the aggressors, France and England can subject us to their will. 
Therefore if we wish to bring about an attack on the part of our 
enemies, we must initiate a political action which, without attacking 
France, yet will hurt her interests, and those of England, so severely 
that both states will be obliged to attack us. The possibilities for 
such a procedure present themselves as well in Africa as in Europe." 

In the face of such language, which beyond a perad venture repre- 
sents the mentality of the ruling classes, it is delightful to record 
the complete failure of William II and his five chancellors to secure 
the permanent safety of Germany. Fear of its incalculable intentions 
has sounded the knell of ancient animosities. France and Italy have 
composed their differences, England and Russia have seen through 
the German game, and France and England have developed such 

126 The Fashion and Future of History 

intimate relations that twice within ten years the British govern- 
ment has been ready to throw 150,000 redcoats, the finest soldiers 
in the world, upon the eastern frontier of France. German diplomacy 
stultified itself by allowing Italy to embark upon its Tripolitan ad- 
venture, by which it has given hostages to fortune. Let Italian 
troops march into France, as under the Triple Alliance they are 
bound to do, and the French or British fleet will promptly cut off 
communications with Tripoli. As for the other ally, Austria, it 
is face to face with a new Balkan problem which will paralyse its 
action in Europe for years to come. In other words, Germany is 
practically an isolated power, and the hatred with which it is re- 
garded is aptly expressed in these words of a recent writer on Italy. 

"In these days when the second-rate efficiency of the Teu- 
ton threatens to engulf everything that is vital and character- 
istic in Europe, we should be eager to encourage and consider 
such little states as Andorra and San Marino. Not that they 
can in any way help stem the flood of mud that rolls over 
us all from the Germanies, but that in their happiness they 
serve as examples of all that we should lose by a Germanic 
domination, under which all that is most divine in us, most 
characteristic and genuine, will be smothered by the most 
accursed mediocrity that has ever appeared in Europe, and 
would be crushed out of existence by a system, a training 
and a tradition essentially barbarous atheistic, and hopeless." 

Let us conclude by striking a balance. On the credit side may be 
recorded an enormous increase in population, a prodigious advance 
in every kind of industrial and commercial activity, the creation 
of the second most powerful fleet in the world, and some success with 
the new Weltpolitik. To offset this splendid showing, the extra- 
ordinary expenditure on armaments has thrown finances into dis- 
order, and greatly increased the popular burden, more especially 
as the great prosperity of the earlier years has slackened perceptibly. 
Nearly one-third of the people regularly express, through the ballot, 
their dissatisfaction with existing conditions, so that a reactionary 
professor now proposes to destroy Poebel, Presse, and Parlamentismus 
as the three evils of the realm which must be extirpated. In foreign 
affairs Germany has aroused the enmity of England without securing 
the good-will of France, and has been fooled by its allies. From 

Germany in the Reign of William II 127 

an American point of view, the balance is decidedly against Germany, 
nor is it countervailed by the personality of the Emperor. To 
William II the world will accord a due meed of praise for keeping 
the peace, but in other respects it will regret that a career of much 
promise has been marked by an excessive devotion to the ideals 
of the past and by a self-assertiveness not warranted by the test 
of proportionate achievement. 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 

A lecture given at the University of Chicago on August 1, 1914, 
twenty years after the First World War began. It offers a view of 
the state of the discussion about the responsibility for the war and 
the question of American participation. Little is said about the 
peace treaties that came after the war or about the world created 
by them. The purpose of the lecture was expressed in the final 
sentence: "Let us be taught by the lessons of twenty years, recognize 
that, however much we may dislike the fact, we are inextricably in- 
volved in the affairs of Europe, and evolve a policy towards Europe 
which will strengthen the forces of peace and save our skins". 

Rereading the lecture after 26 years, I find nothing to change. 
I note, however, that I do not discuss the possibility of a new war- 
in Europe. Personally I was of the opinion, after Hitler had assumed 
power, that Germany would some day go to war again in order to 
tear up the treaty of Versailles, but in August 1934 it was not possi- 
ble to guess how soon this would happen. Although the blood purge 
of June 1934 and the assassination of the Austrian chancellor Doll- 
fuss in July were evil signs, in the summer of 1934 Germany did 
not possess the military power on land, at sea or in the air to chal- 
lenge Britain and France. It was not until the following year, 1935, 
that Germany began to rebuild its army, air force, and navy. When 
Germany started rearming, both Britain and France, instead of 
following suit, embarked on a policy of "appeasement" and allowed 
Germany to get such an advantage that in 1939 Germany had be- 
come strong enough to precipitate xvar. 

1 wenty years ago to-day Germany declared war on Russia, and 
the Great War began. Some of you here present were perhaps not 
even born, and probably more of you were too young to realize 
what was happening. To such the years from 1914 to 1918 are no 
more than an historical episode analogous to the Civil War or the 


130 The Fashion and Future of History 

American Revolution. But men and women who have passed forty 
will probably recall the mingled sensation of horror and incredulity 
with which they learned of the European tragedy. In 1914 few 
Americans knew anything or took any interest in the complicated 
politics of Europe, for the ordinary newspaper provided little in- 
formation on foreign affairs, and the conviction was well-nigh 
universal that the affairs of Europe were no concern of ours. 

To-day a large number of people are again proclaiming that the 
troubles of Europe are none of our business and are clamoring for 
a policy of isolation. But even the most determined 'die hards' must 
surely recognize that what happens in Europe does react upon us, 
whether we like it or not. Is German default of no interest to the 
thousands of Americans who bought German bonds? Is there no 
relation between the defaulting of the inter-allied war debts and 
the political and economic conditions of Europe? Paradoxically 
enough, those who insist most strongly on the payment of the war 
debts are also the bitterest advocates of isolation. Have twenty years 
of confusion verging upon chaos taught us nothing? And so, on 
this fateful anniversary, I propose to take a look backward at the 
war, to try to recapture its mood, and to discover, if I can, some 
of its lessons. 

The most spectacular fact about the war was the suddenness 
with which it broke out. On July 23, 1914, when Austria hurled its 
ultimatum at Serbia, the only exciting circumstance in Europe was 
the possibility of civil war in Ireland over the question of Home 
Rule: two weeks later seven nations were at war. Even in Europe 
this abrupt transformation from peace to war caused a shock. It 
is true that for some years before 1914 certain men had been crying 
that a great European conflict was impending, but they were not 
heeded by the great masses. Four times in a decade— in 1905, 1908-9, 
1911, 1912-13— Europe had been brought to the verge of war. But 
on each occasion the governments had drawn back, and in spite of 
ancient grudges and traditional rivalries, the idea had begun to 
spread that war was not only inhuman but also unprofitable. States- 
men and diplomatists in every country professed their devotion to 
peace and more or less sincerely believed their professions. Yet 
within a fortnight inhibitions and restraints were swept away as if 
they had never existed. 

The moral of all this for us is clear enough, namely, that the 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 131 

peace of the world lies at the mercy of some untoward incident. 
The murder at Sarajevo of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne 
was not the cause of the Great War— it merely provided the occasion. 
So another assassination, or something else equally stupid, may again 
open the temple of Janus, just, for that matter, as the blowing-up 
of a bridge in Manchuria in September 1931 precipitated the Chino- 
Japanese conflict of recent years. Is there no way of escape from 
such operations of chance? Sir Edward, later Viscount, Grey, the 
British foreign secretary in July 1914, subsequently expressed the 
opinion that if the League of Nations had been in existence at that 
time war might have been avoided. In view of the League's failure 
to prevent what was actually, though not legally, war between China 
and Japan, one must be skeptical. But Grey's argument was sound 
in principle. What he meant to say, I think, was that when war 
threatens, the danger can best be exorcised by mobilizing the opinion 
of neutrals which shall demand that the disputants submit to some 
kind of mediation or conciliation. Events have shown that the 
present procedure of the League of Nations is ineffective, partly 
because of the terms of the Covenant, partly because certain Great 
Powers are not members of the League. But the principle is surely 
sound that because war anywhere affects the world at large, some 
machinery is required which will enable the nations not parties to 
a dispute to consult together on how to prevent the dispute from 
degenerating into war. This machinery needs to operate automatical- 
ly and immediately, for time is the essence of success; in 1914 there 
was no such machinery and it could not be improvised in a few days. 
Also the consultation must be universal, or at least it must be partic- 
ipated in by all the Great Powers; in 1931 the action of the League 
was seriously handicapped by the absence of Russia and the uncer- 
tain attitude of the United States. To devise such a fool-proof 
machinery is the prime task of this generation. Perhaps it cannot 
be done. But we Americans should never forget that because an 
Austrian archduke was killed at Sarajevo more than fifty thousand 
Americans died in France and we are saddled with debts which will 
burden us for a generation. 

Once the shock of war had been met, there began a fervid and 
passionate investigation of the causes of the tragedy. From a psycho- 
logical point of view the very fact that the war had broken out 
suddenly— unlike previous great conflicts, which were long in coming 

132 The Fashion and Future of History 

to a head— made plausible the view that it had been deliberately 
plotted and then sprung at what seemed an auspicious moment. The 
conduct of German diplomacy in July 1914 seemed to bear out this 
theory, and ultimately there emerged a story, which first circulated 
in Germany itself, to the effect that early in July representatives of 
the Austrian and German governments had met secretly at Potsdam, 
under the presidency of the German Emperor, and there decided 
to bring on a European war. For some years this story was almost 
universally believed in the Allied countries and in the United 
States, not less so because there was seemingly good evidence to sup- 
port it. The Germans were never able to fix so specific a plot on 
their enemies, but all during the years of the war they believed, 
and many of them still believe, that Russia, France and Great Bri- 
tain had been sedulously preparing for a war to annihilate Germany 
and had therefore seized with alacrity the opportunity offered when 
Austria decided to punish Serbia for the murder at Sarajevo. 

Recent historical research has disposed of many of these legends. 
The collapse of the empires of the Romanovs, Habsburg and Hohen- 
zollerns has made possible the opening of secret achives in their 
respective countries, and this in turn forced the victorious powers, 
Great Britain and France, to publish their diplomatic correspondence. 
At present the number of documents dealing with international rela- 
tions in the period from 1871 to 1914 which the historian can peruse 
is not far from 50,000 and may well reach twice that figure before 
all the material has been made available. Many private letters have 
also been published in the autobiographies or biographies of the 
principal personages involved. Anyone who reads this voluminous 
material will soon disabuse himself of the notion that the govern- 
ments of pre-war Europe deliberately plotted a European war. 
That is not to say that individual statesmen did not, at given 
moments, toy with the idea of war or try to impress their adversaries 
by threats of war. Bismarck, whose policy after 1871 was generally 
pacific, did not hesitate on several occasions, to try to terrorize France 
and Russia, and his most famous successor, Biilow, boasted that 
during the first Moroccan crisis of 1905, he had let the situation 
develop almost to the point of war, confident that at the last minute 
he could wriggle out. The German Emperor also talked much of 
war and gave vent to many belligerent sentiments in the marginal 
notes which he scribbled on the margins of documents submitted 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 133 

to him. Such dangerous tactics contributed powerfully to the wide- 
spread distrust of Germany which prevailed for years before 1914, 
but they do not prove that the German government was pursuing 
a policy of deliberate war. Likewise French statesmen such as Delcasse, 
Clemenceau and Poincare were at times ready to fight; so also the 
Russian Izvolsky and the Austrian Aehrenthal, and even a British 
Liberal like Sir Edward Grey and a British Radical like David 
Lloyd George could and did show their teeth. But it seems well 
established that responsible governments, however much they pre- 
pared for war by creating enormous armies and building huge 
navies, however much they might bluster and try to bluff, did not 
desire an armed conflict; one and all they preferred the maintenance 
of peace and not only were prepared to, but actually did, make 
concessions for its sake. 

Of the military men one can speak with less confidence. Certainly 
General Conrad von Hotzendorf, the chief of the Austrian general 
staff, itched for war and from 1906 on did his utmost to bring it 
about. Germany also had its school which advocated 'preventive war,' 
notably Waldersee in the late 'eighties and early 'nineties; it would 
also seem that in 1914 the chief of the German general staff, the 
younger Moltke, welcomed war because he preferred to have it 
then rather than later. The Grand Duke Nicholas, who commanded 
the Russian armies in 1914, is thought by some to have been eager for 
war; so perhaps also certain French generals. The famous British 
admiral Sir John Fisher was keen to 'Copenhagen' the German fleet 
before it became too strong. But down to 1914 these generals and 
admirals were kept in hand by the civil authorities and had little 
influence on policy. What these men contributed was not so much a 
direct push towards war as the spread of suspicion and fear, for 
their never-ending demands for bigger and better armaments made 
for nervousness all around, and often embarrassed the diplomatists 
who strove for peace. 

It cannot, then, be said that the war was the result of a fell 
conspiracy on the part of conscienceless and ambitious men; even 
those who in 1914 took the decisions and gave the orders that 
issued in war did so in the conviction that no other course lay open 
to them in the interests of their respective states. The one exception 
was Austria, which for several years had been desirous of a military 
reckoning with Serbia if a plausible excuse could be found— which 

134 The Fashion and Future of Flistory 

was provided by the murder at Sarajevo. 

Fundamentally the war of 1914 was caused by the fact that the 
frontiers of states did not correspond to the distribution of peoples. 
Germany and France were enemies because in 1871 Germany had 
taken Alsace-Lorraine against the wishes of the population who, 
whatever their racial origins and past connections, then considered 
themselves French. The Austro-Hungarian monarchy contained eleven 
different peoples, most of whom lived in subordination, both political 
and economic, to two or three privileged races and were vainly en- 
deavoring to secure some measure of self-government. The Balkans 
were restless because the Christian populations desired to be eman- 
cipated from Turkish rule. Russia also had numerous non-Russian 
minorities who deeply resented Russian domination. Everywhere 
minorities were harshly treated by the governments under whom 
they were forced to live and gradually became more or less disloyal. 
Not only that, but many minorities had kinsmen across the frontier 
with whom they wished to be united. The Rumanians lived partly 
in Austria, partly in Hungary, partly in Rumania. The Yugoslavs 
were divided between Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro and, 
until 1812, Turkey. The Poles had long before been partitioned 
between Prussia, Russia and Austria. Bulgarians, Greeks and Italians 
also had failed to achieve national unity. The Zeitgeist made it 
inevitable that these several disunited peoples should strive for 
unity. They could achieve it only by the destruction of existing 
governments or existing constitutions and a wholesale remaking of 
the map of Europe. Since the existing governments were not in the 
least disposed to permit this, the only means to the end desired 
was war. 

It was this irrepressible conflict which led the European govern- 
ments to devote so much time, energy and treasure to the fashioning 
of armies. Germany was convinced that it could hold Alsace-Lorraine 
only by the sword and therefore maintained an army deemed suffi- 
cient for the purpose. Austria and Russia were in the same boat, 
for they could keep their subject races in submission only by force. 
France and Italy could hope to liberate their kinsmen under German 
and Austrian rule only by war. Thus the German system of uni- 
versal military service had to be and was adopted by all the Con- 
tinental powers, and once adopted, there was no escape from it. 
Every increase in strength, every technical improvement in materiel 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 135 

made by one country had to be met all around, and after forty 
years of competition, the relative strength of all was not greatly 
altered. The principal result had been an increase of fear and sus- 

A similar competition in naval armaments was engendered by 
rivalries for colonies and concessions abroad. Unlike the conflicts 
of nationality on the continent of Europe which often involved the 
traditions of centuries, these overseas rivalries, which were of recent 
origin, could be and were compromised. If we leave out of account 
the Russo-Japanese war, the Great Powers of Europe managed to 
divide Africa, parts of Asia and the islands of the Pacific without war. 
Similarly, trade competition and commercial wars could be dealt 
with by means of tariffs, either by raising or by reducing them, 
and except in the case of Austria and Serbia, where the situation 
was peculiar, trade rivalry had, in my judgment, comparatively 
little to do with the war of 1914. But the steady building-up of vast 
navies contributed powerfully to international ill-feeling, and the 
primary issue between Great Britain and Germany was assuredly 
their competition for the mastery of the seas. 

Now the most fatal aspect of this enormous expenditure on 
armies and navies was not the money involved or even the training 
of millions of men in the ways of war, but the progressive insecurity 
felt by every nation. Governments and generals invariably asserted 
that armaments were necessary to secure peace, but actually the 
greater armaments became, the less secure did any country feel, 
because it was more and more alarmed by the armaments of its 
neighbors. In 1912 the chief of the German general staff declared 
that the position of Germany was more dangerous than at any 
time since the establishment of the empire forty years before— yet 
Germany, by general admission, possessed the finest military machine 
in the world and the second strongest fleet. And Winston Churchill 
talked in much the same strain, although the British navy was the 
most formidable aggregation of fighting ships ever known. Thus 
unstable political frontiers had created a feeling of insecurity, and so 
recourse was had to armaments which might defend those frontiers. 
Yet armaments seemed unequal to the task. What then? 

Obviously, try to find friends who will help you, on condition 
that you in turn will help them. Hence the system of alliances, which 
began with the Austro-German alliance of 1879. When this alliance 

136 The Fashion and Future of History 

was expanded in 1882 into a Triple Alliance by the inclusion of 
Italy, some counter-weight became necessary and was found by the 
conclusion of a Franco-Russian alliance between 1891 and 1894. 
Originally both alliances were defensive, being formed to preserve 
the status quo, and for some years they existed side by side, neither 
really threatening the other. But with the passage of time each 
alliance was modified, with a view to permitting changes in the 
status quo. In the end this new tendency was bound to become 

For many years the maintenance of equilibrium between the 
Triple and Dual Alliances was facilitated by the isolation of Great 
Britain, which co-operated now with one, now with the other group. 
But in the early years of this century Great Britain began to find its 
isolation costly and even dangerous, and it was forced to surrender 
its casting vote in favor of one group or the other. It tried to make 
a bargain with Germany— and failed. Thereupon it adhered to the 
other side, to France and Russia. Great Britain never joined the Dual 
Alliance, but it became a diplomatic partner, thereby creating the 
Triple Entente. Also it made certain military and naval arrange- 
ments with France which could be put into effect if Great Britain 
decided to join France in War. By July 1914 the schism of Europe 
was complete: Triple Alliance stood face to face with Triple Entente. 
Each side was determined to preserve, if possible, the balance of 
European power in its favor. 

This explains what happened in July 1914. Theoretically the 
quarrel between Austria and Serbia which was brought to a head 
by the murder at Sarajevo concerned only those two countries. 
Actually Serbia occupied, at the moment, the key position in 
European politics. Were it brought under Austrian control, which 
would surely result if Serbia accepted the Austrian ultimatum, Aus- 
tria and Germany would effectually dominate the Balkan peninsula 
and establish a close connection with Turkey where German in- 
fluence was already predominant. The Central Powers would, in 
short, obtain the ascendency of Europe. Therefore Russia in the first 
line and France in the second resisted the pretensions of Austria, 
and if they could keep Serbia from the clutches of Austria, they 
might themselves secure the ascendency of Europe. And Great 
Britain was drawn into the conflict by the same consideration: it 
was unwilling to let Germany, with its threat to British naval supre- 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 137 

macy, acquire a dominant position on the continent, because Ger- 
many would then be able to make good its challenge on the seas. 
Thus, in the end, the principle of the balance of power proved no 
more effective for the maintenance of peace than bloated armaments. 
Stripped of diplomatic verbiage, this was the issue which lay behind 
the thousands of telegrams exchanged between July 23 and August 
4, 1914. 

The Great War, then, was the consequence of the system of 
alliances and armaments which had grown up since 1871. But while 
all the Great Powers were involved in this system, it does not 
follow that all were equally responsible for the crash of 1914. The 
documents now available leave no doubt in my mind that the 
primary responsibility rests with the Central Powers, for it was they 
who put the system to the test. Austria-Hungary decided to seize 
the opportunity offered by the murder at Sarajevo for the long- 
desired reckoning with Serbia and formulated a plan of military 
invasion. The Austrian statesmen were well aware that this would 
probably provoke intervention by Russia and not unnaturally, before 
making their final decision, inquired what would be the attitude 
of Germany. There was the possibility that German support of Aus- 
tria would deter Russia from action; if it did not, only German 
assistance would permit Austria to fight Russia as well as Serbia. 

The German Emperor and the German government, having had 
the Austrian plan explained to them, accepted it with alacrity and 
urged its immediate execution. According to the existing evidence 
William II and Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg believed, or affected 
to believe, that Russia would not intervene; why they did so remains 
to this day a complete puzzle, for both had previously declared, 
on more than one occasion, that an Austrian invasion of Serbia 
would cause Russia to interfere. Nevertheless both recognized that 
Russia might come forward as the defender of Serbia. Therefore, when 
they sanctioned the Austrian policy, they knew that they were run- 
ning the risk of a European war. Since they assumed that Great 
Britain would not take part in a European war arising out of a Balkan 
question, they may have argued to themselves that Russia, even 
with the support of France, would back down before the superior 
military power of Germany and Austria-Hungary. In either case, 
they put the system to the test. If Germany had said to its ally 
that Austria must be content with some punishment of Serbia less 

138 The Fashion and Future of History 

severe than military action, Austria would have had to submit to 
this advice, and in all probability war would not have broken 
out in July 1914. It may be noted that the German decision was 
taken by the political authorities, for the military chiefs were not 
consulted, only being informed of the decision when made. The 
soldiers were, however, nothing loath, and certainly did nothing to 
prevent the crisis from developing into war. 

The crisis was created by the action of Austria, which refused to 
recede one jot or tittle from its demands that had been calculated 
to make war with Serbia unavoidable, and of Germany, who sup- 
ported the Austrians to the limit. But the crisis was immediately 
regarded by Russia and France as a test of the balance of power. 
They would have preferred to fight later, and they offered their 
opponents numerous opportunities for negotiation and compromise. 
But because they thought themselves sufficiently well prepared to 
risk a war, they refused to accept the Austro-German programme 
in toto. The Russians did their best to make clear to the Central 
Powers that they would fight if necessary, but Germany either would 
not take the Russian warning seriously or did not care if war 
did come. In such circumstances peace had no chance. 

But peace might have had a chance if the one country which, more 
than any other, namely Great Britain, sincerely desired peace, had 
pursued a different course. As already stated, the German govern- 
ment, when deciding to support Austria to the limit, did so in the 
expectation that Great Britain would remain neutral— although the 
German ambassador in London had for eighteen months consistently 
reported his conviction that Great Britain would assist France if it 
were attacked by Germany. When, as the crisis developed, it began 
to appear that Great Britain would probably not remain neutral if 
war came, the German Emperor and the German government be- 
came alarmed: to fight Russia and France was one thing, to add 
Great Britain to the list of enemies completely altered the situation. 
In consequence Berlin began, within certain limits, to urge Vienna 
to make concessions which might possibly prevent war. Unfortunately, 
these moves were made too late, because Austria had already de- 
clared war on Serbia and Russia had begun mobilization; also the 
German pressure was relaxed at the critical moment, and in the end 
Austria yielded nothing. But it can certainly be argued that if 
Great Britain had made clear, before Austria declared war on Serbia, 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 139 

that it would join in the fray, Germany would have prevented an 
Austrian declaration of war (which actually it had encouraged) 
and would have negotiated for a compromise. Both the Russians 
and the French believed this at the time, and probably they were 
right, and I suspect that Grey believed it too. 

The irony, the tragedy, was that British public opinion would 
not permit Grey to make the one declaration which would have 
saved the situation. It is not, I hope, belittling representative gov- 
ernment to say that in time of grave crisis it can effectively prevent 
those in authority from taking steps which they believe necessary. 
The British thought they were keeping their hands free to decide 
what to do when the moment came: actually they found that they 
were not free, that the decision had been made for them by events 
which they had refused to control. And in this year 1934 British 
opinion seems still unwilling to learn the lesson of 1914. It is 
still trying to avoid taking sides betwen France and Germany, though 
at the moment it seems to be leaning somewhat to France. But if, 
unhappily, a new war should break out between Germany and 
France, Great Britain will again find itself just where it was in 
1914— and I doubt not that the result will also be the same. 

So much for the origins of the war and its lessons. Obviously this 
is no place to attempt even a summary of the military operations 
from 1914 to 1918. But certain emotions of those years may be re- 
called and some observations offered. In the first place, very few 
persons had the slightest notion that the war would last so long— 
if they had, there surely would have been no war. The general 
staffs expected a short struggle— the Germans counted on smashing 
the French within six weeks, and nearly did so. The shortage of 
ammunition which soon manifested itself tells the same story. And 
the general public everywhere long cherished the illusion that victory 
lay just around the corner. Many of you can doubtless remember the 
eagerness with which you read of some small victory, in the expecta- 
tion that this was the beginning of a 'push' which would be 
decisive. Anyone who in 1914 had dared to say that the belligerents 
could hold out for more than four years would have been dubbed an 
unreasoning pessimist or a traitor. The moral is that war is incal- 
culable and that in the long run, it is much safer not to run the 
risks it entails. 

A second conclusion is embodied in the remark ascribed to 

140 The Fashion and Future of History 

Clemenceau that war is much too serious a business to be entrusted to 
soldiers. All things considered, the military mind did not dis- 
tinguish itself. It is true that Kitchener predicted the war would last 
at least three years, but he often showed himself obtuse in his 
psychological handling of vital problems, notably the question of 
Irish recruiting. Nor was he able to break through the red tape 
which stood in the way of providing the British army with the 
munitions and supplies it needed. In vivid pages Mr. Lloyd George 
has described how he had to make guns and munitions in spite of 
the British war office, which resented having a civilian tell it what 
to do and how to do it. The classic example of military obtuseness is, 
of course, the tank. The British generals were long opposed to it; 
when finally they accepted it, they insisted on using it prematurely 
and thereby nearly ruined its chances. Fortunately for the Allies, the 
Germans also at first refused to take the tank seriously and neglected 
effective counter-measures until too late. Similarly the Germans began 
to use their submarines before they possessed nearly enough for 
really effective action and thus gave the AUies time to experiment 
with methods of defence. 

Both Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Winston Churchill have de- 
nounced in glowing terms the high strategy of the war, as imposed 
by the French and British general staffs, that is, the insistence on 
attacking the enemy at his strongest point instead of seeking the 
weak places in his armor. It was the civilian ministers who insisted 
on the expedition to Salonica that finally contributed so much to 
the ending of the war. The German general staff, in turn, has to 
be credited with the entry of America into the war, for they, and not 
the German government, were responsible for unrestricted submarine 

Even on the strictly military side, the generals can hardly be 
said to have won great distinction. On the western front trench 
warfare continued for nearly four years, neither side being able, 
until 1918, to devise any method except that of frontal assault in 
which they persisted long after its failure had been demonstrated. 
But perhaps one should not condemn the generals too severely, 
for in fact the huge armies used in the war were a new phenomenon 
in military history and the art of handling such enormous bodies 
of men had to be improvised more or less by the method of trial 
and error. It is probably true to say that if the war had been fought 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 141 

by small professional armies, it would have come to an end much 
sooner, and the political consequences might well have been much 
the same as were achieved by mobilizing entire nations. 

On the political side, the most important discovery was the 
possibilities and dangers of propaganda. In spite of forty years of 
universal military service in the continental nations, the belligerent 
peoples had to be kept up to the top pitch of enthusiasm by incessant 
governmental encouragement. 'War weariness' was a universal dis- 
ease, inevitably so in the face of the tremendous losses and the in- 
credible privations suffered by the civilian populations, and it was 
counteracted only by relentless propaganda. But if the governments 
were thereby enabled to fight the war to a finish, they became at 
the same time prisoners of public opinion. Having whipped up 
their peoples to believe that nothing less than a knock-out victory was 
tolerable, they dared not negotiate for a compromise peace, even 
though they were one and all aware of the dangers of economic ex- 
haustion or social revolution that might result from prolonging the 
fighting. Lord Lansdowne's appeal for a negotiated peace got scant 
hearing in England; the Emperor Charles of Austria had to conduct 
his negotiations in complete secrecy; the German government was 
never able to issue a declaration for the restoration of Belgium. 
But in spite of this obvious lesson, it must be assumed, I fear, that 
in the event of another war, governments will once more mobilize 
public opinion and act precisely as they did in 1914-1918. 

Possibly one hopeful sign can be detected in the circumstances in 
which the war was fought. Modern war is essentially a war of 
materiel, and it is permitted to doubt whether, in spite of all the 
present portents of war, Europe is in a position to fight again on the 
scale of 1914-1918. By common consent Germany is the nation most 
disposed and likely to risk another conflict. But the Germany of 1934 
is not the mighty German Empire of 1914. Its resources in iron, 
without which guns and munitions cannot be made, are much 
smaller than they were twenty years ago. Unless it were able to 
capture the Briey basin in France and the iron fields of Polish Upper 
Silesia, it might have considerable difficulty in equipping its armies. 
The oil fields of Galicia, which were so important to Germany and 
Austria-Hungary in the late war, belong to Poland. And in its present 
economic condition, which may continue indefinitely, it will not 
be able to buy abroad beforehand large supplies of iron and oil and 

142 The Fashion and Future of History 

cotton. 1 Italy also is poor in coal and iron. France and Great Britain 
are undoubtedly better placed than they were in 1914, but they 
too would probably have to import many materials— and how would 
they find the price? In 1914-1917 both countries were able, up to a 
certain time, to finance their purchases in the United States by the 
sale of American securities, but to-day the amount of such securities 
held in France and Great Britain is relatively small. Failing such 
means, the only other course would be to raise loans or secure 
credits. In the present state of American opinion, surely neither could 
foreign loans be floated nor foreign credits raised. Economic con- 
siderations may not prevent a new war, but lack of resources may 
make it shorter and less exhaustive than the last one. 

Such a statement of course presupposes that a new war will be 
fought by the old methods. But that is of course highly doubtful. 
Many military men now believe that airplanes and gases will be 
the deciding factors, not ships and shells. That, however, opens up 
vistas into which a layman cannot safely peer. 2 

Whatever the nature of the next war may be, American opinion 
is clearly determined that we shall not be drawn into it. But in 
August 1914 probably no American seriously believed that we 
would participate in the conflict then beginning. I cannot recall 
hearing anyone at that time express such an opinion, and certainly 
nothing was further from the mind of President Wilson. Yet in 
the end we did go in. Can we escape if a new war occurs? Before 
attempting to answer that question it is worth while trying to 
discover why we did, after long hesitations, throw in our lot with 
the Allies. 

At the present time many people are persuaded that it was 
the devilishly clever propaganda of the Allies which did the trick, 
and since the Allies were no better than the Germans, as is proved 
by the famous secret treaties for dividing the spoils of victory, we 
were the simple victims of egregious misrepresentation. Personally, 
I believe this estimate incorrect. The German invasion of Belgium 
made an ineradicable impression on the American mind which 
was further deepened by the reports of Belgian atrocities. From the 

1 This was a bad guess. The German array that took the field in 1939 lacked 

2 General de Gaulle published his book on armored warfare in 1934, but 
I had not read it. 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 143 

very beginning of the war American sentiment was preponderantly 
pro-Ally; this is not merely my own conviction, but the opinion of 
numerous historical writers and, it may be added, of Count Bern- 
storff, the German ambassador. That this sentiment was strengthened 
and stimulated by Allied propaganda, may be conceded, but the 
maladroit German activity helped not a little. If, however, American 
felling was strongly anti-German, it was not, except in certain 
circles along the Atlantic seaboard, in favor of intervention. The 
Middle West and West wished to keep out of the war, and for 
that reason reelected Woodrow Wilson in November 1916. Further- 
more the peace efforts of the President in December enjoyed wide 
popular support. It is no doubt true that Allied propaganda en- 
couraged us to regard the Germans as devils and the Allies as saints, 
but after all the German case was constantly presented in the Ameri- 
can press by sympathetic correspondents, and it should not be for- 
gotten that Russia was much disliked by many elements in the 
United States. My own guess is that propaganda had much less to 
do with the formulation of American opinion than is generally 

Equally wide of the mark, in my judgment, is the view that 
business interests drove the United States into the war in order to 
save investments in the Allied countries. As a matter of fact, most 
of the purchases made by the Allies were paid for in cash or by the sale 
of American securities. The credits established by the Allied govern- 
ments, while considerable, were not worth the gigantic cost of our 
participating in the war. Again, Wilson was the last man to yield 
to the pressure of business, and there is no evidence that such sordid 
reasons influenced him or any important section of opinion. Un- 
doubtedly many people cherished the belief that Great Britain and 
France ought to be saved from the clutches of Germany, but it 
remains to be proved that any large number wished to see this 
done by the arms of the United States. 

Until convincing evidence to the contrary is produced, the verdict 
must be that until Germany embarked upon unrestricted submarine 
warfare in February 1917, American opinion was overwhelmingly 
against intervention. Even so, President Wilson was by no means 
resolved on war when he sent Ambassador Bernstorff home. He 
continued to hope that this action would bring the German govern- 
ment to reason, and he waited for what he called "actual overt acts" 

144 The Fashion and Future of History 

before he took the plunge. As late as the morning of April 2, he was 
still uncertain in his own mind. 

The policy of the President which had brought him and the 
country to this pass has been criticized from many points of view. 
From 1914 to 1917 he was assailed because he did not act with 
sufficient vigor. Pro-Germans wished him to stop the British inter- 
ference with American trade with Germany, while some pro-Ally 
partisans urged a rupture with Germany over the Lusitania or the 
Sussex. Both complained that while the president wrote magnificent 
notes of protest they failed to secure results. Instead of confining 
himself to words, he should, they said, have "acted," and the move- 
ment for preparedness was intended to provide him with the means 
of action. Colonel House, the confidential adviser to Wilson, con- 
sistently argued that if the United States greatly increased its army 
and navy the European belligerents would listen to our protests, and 
it is at least significant that the British feared we might adopt 
the plan of convoying our merchantmen. Wilson did ultimately 
come out for preparedness, but by that time the situation had 
become hopeless. 

The Wilsonian policy was also criticized on the ground that it was 
not a policy of genuine neutrality, but of partiality for the Allies. 
This was, in fact, the truth of the matter. Because of the British 
blockade, the Allies could import whatever they needed from the 
United States, whereas the Central Powers could not. Legally, of 
course, the position of the United States was unassailable, even in 
the matter of munitions, and the German government admitted it. 
To have changed the existing law would have been an unneutral 
act. Moreover, the immediate interests of the United States were 
served by the trade in munitions and war materials. In 1914 business 
was seriously depressed in the United States and the international 
trade balance was against us. By 1916 we were enjoying great pros- 
perity. To have tried, in the name of neutrality, to shut off the 
export of war materials to the Allies would have revived economic 
distress and have alienated both manufacturers and workmen who 
were profiting by the war trade. In a presidential year, such a course 
was politically impossible and would, moreover, have been condemned 
by the great body of Americans who desired the defeat of Germany. 
But when all is said, the fact remains that it was precisely the con- 
tinued flow of American goods to the Allies which drove Germany to 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 145 

the desperate course of unrestricted submarine warfare. 

To what extent Wilson appreciated this is not clear. In any case 
the president undoubtedly applied one standard of conduct to the 
Allies and another to the Central Powers. From a legal point of 
view there was no difference between the British forcing neutral 
ships into British harbors for examination of cargoes and the 
Germans sinking ships because they could not take the ships into 
port, no difference, that is, in the sense that both acts were violations 
of international law. But Mr. Wilson very early established a dis- 
tinction. Interference with the course of American trade could at 
any rate be compensated for, but the loss of American lives through 
the action of German submarines was irremediable. This distinction 
was legally and technically sound, for under international law, a 
man-of-war was bound to rescue the crew and passengers of a 
captured ship if it were sunk— and this, of course, the submarine 
could not do. The Germans contended that they were not adapting 
existing international law to a new situation any more than the 
British were in their extension of the rules of blockade. But American 
opinion heartily supported the president, and thus the German 
contentions got little hearing. 

It must not, however, be supposed that Mr. Wilson, though he 
talked less sternly to the Allies than to the Central Powers, was 
indifferent to the conduct of the Allies. Indeed he grew more and 
more indignant as the months and years passed and finally secured 
power from Congress to institute reprisals. Most unfortunately, when- 
ever the president was getting into a frame of mind to deal severely 
with the Allies, the Germans would perpetrate some new submarine 
atrocity or deport Belgian workmen and thus redirect attention to 
themselves. They committed their crowning stupidity in January 
1917, and since one aspect of this is not generally known, a brief 
statement will not be without interest. 

By the end of 1915, President Wilson had realized that waging neu- 
trality had become increasingly difficult and was likely to become 
impossible. The only avenue of escape, if America was to keep 
out of the war, was to bring the war to a close. In the spring of 1916 
he made a proposal to the Allies according to which the United 
States would intervene if Germany refused to discuss reasonable 
terms of peace. He was greatly annoyed when the Allies practically 
ignored this offer, and his irritation steadily increased on account of 

146 The Fashion and Future of History 

the blockade. By the end of the year 1916, Mr. Wilson was actually 
more disgusted with the Allies than he was with the Germans, who 
had kept their pledge about submarines since the sinking of the 
Sussex. Then in December he made his overture for peace to both 
groups of belligerents. The Allies replied with a refusal, together 
with a statement of terms which Wilson and Lansing, the secretary 
of state, thought ridiculous. The Germans refused to communicate 
their terms, and instead took their fatal decision for unrestricted 
submarine warfare. This much is common knowledge. What is not 
generally known is that, if we may believe Count Bernstorff, the 
German ambassador, who claimed to have had it from Colonel 
House, Mr. Wilson intended, if the German terms proved at all 
reasonable, to use the power of reprisal vested in him by Congress, 
to compel the Allies to enter upon peace negotiations with the 
Central Powers. Bernstorff was enthusiastic and finally secured a 
statement of the German terms which he transmitted to Wilson. 
But it was too late, for at the same time he had to hand over the 
note announcing unrestricted submarine warfare. Thus the Germans 
lost the supreme opportunity to bring the war to an end, and 
precisely because they had spoiled his plans, President W T ilson turned 
upon them with all possible bitterness. 

Could we have stayed out of the war, should we have stayed 
out? The answer to both questions is in the negative. Once we had 
begun to sell war supplies to the Allies on a large scale, our 
economic prosperity was bound up with this trade, which was ap- 
proved by a majority of the people. Inevitably that brought us face 
to face with the submarine issue. That issue we might have avoided 
by forbidding Americans to travel in the war zone, except at their 
own risk. But Wilson refused, and was supported on the whole 
by public opinion, to admit any such derogation of Americans' legal 
rights, on the ground that it would not be becoming to the dignity 
of the United States, and he finally made the issue one of humanity 
as well as of legality. International law being what it was, no other 
policy seemed practicable or worth considering. 

If we had not entered the war, it is very unlikely, nay almost 
certain, that the Allies could not have won, especially after the 
collapse of Russia. The terms of peace might have been a compromise 
which, in the minds of many, would have been better than the 
treaties imposed on the Central Powers in 1919. But it is more 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 147 

likely, in view of the actual military situation, that the Germans 
would have been able to dictate a peace comparable to the peace 
of Brest-Li tovsk which they forced on Russia in 1918. At the best 
the German military party would have remained masters of the 
situation— and such was their hatred of the United States for having 
supplied munitions to the Allies, such would have been their 
power even in the event of a compromise peace, that in the end we 
should probably have had to reckon with them. So, in spite of all 
the disillusionments of the past fifteen years, I remain convinced 
that both the honor and the interests of the United States required us 
to intervene. And I am equally persuaded that if a new war breaks 
out in Europe, we shall be drawn in again— unless we modify our 
policy of neutrality. Mr. Wilson's experience convinced him that 
neutrality would be impossible in the future, and it was precisely 
for that reason that he wished to create some kind of world organiza- 
tion which would make wars impossible. 

In a striking article in Foreign Affairs last April, Mr. Charles 
Warren, who was the solicitor general of the State Department dur- 
ing the years of our neutrality, has examined what he calls "troubles 
of a neutral," and I commend it to you. In essence, he believes that 
if we attempt to insist on our theoretical 'rights,' we cannot escape 
war. Therefore, has not the time come for us to reshape our 
traditional attitude and give up 'rights' which we can enforce 
only by means of war? But any change must be made before a new 
war begins, in order to escape the reproach of unneutral conduct. 
And be it remembered that all the contested points about blockade 
and submarine remain, in 1934, exactly where they were in 1914, so 
that the same issues would arise again to plague us. For detailed 
suggestions, I refer you to Mr. Warren's article, but no thoughtful 
person can fail to see that the problem is one of the most momentous 
confronting the country. 

Much of our confusion in the matter of foreign policy arises out 
of disgust with the spectacle of post-war Europe. Certainly the 
Europe of to-day is far removed from that Europe safe for democracy 
which, in 1917-18, we expected to create, and it is perhaps natural 
that we should distrust and criticize the European states which 
seem to have learned so little from the late war and to be headed for 
another one. Nevertheless, if we are fair, we shall have to admit that 
the United States bears a large measure of responsibility for the 

148 The Fashion and Future of History 

present state of things. It is fashionable to denounce the peace 
treaties of Paris as the fons et origo malorum. Undoubtedly the 
treaties have played their part in the unsettlement of Europe. But 
may I remind you that in 1918, when the treaties were being form- 
ulated, American opinion desired a 'strong' peace? That the Central 
Powers, and particularly Germany, should be let off easily, was 
not a popular notion, and the criticisms offered in the liberal and 
radical weeklies found very little echo in the daily press. In the 
next place, those who denounce the frontiers established by the 
treaties should remember that the United States had much to do 
with determining these frontiers. Americans sat on all the boundary 
commissions at Paris and often served as mediators between rival 
claimants. The frontiers finally drawn were not perfect, but in most 
cases they were better than the old lines, and good or bad, the 
United States was just as much responsible for them as Great Britain 
or France. By refusing later to ratify the treaties, the United States 
escaped any legal obligation, but that does not discharge our moral 
responsibility. Thirdly, the whole peace settlement was based on the 
hypothesis that the United States would join the League of Nations. 
Whether our failure to join the League is to be explained by the 
animosity of Senator Lodge, the stubbornness of President Wilson, or 
some other cause, our absence from Geneva completely upset all 
calculations and has had incalculable consequences. The irony 
of it all is that, after first ignoring and later discounting the League, 
we finally came to find it a useful and even necessary body and 
within certain limits are actually co-operating with it. I can only 
express my opinion that if the United States had been in the League 
from the beginning, the French invasion of the Ruhr in 1923 — 
which was the first step in Germany's road to economic ruin- 
would not have occurred, that the limitation of armaments would 
long ago have been settled, and that the Manchurian crisis of 1931 
would never have arisen. 

In the minds of many, our refusal to ratify the Covenant of the 
League and the peace treaties was justified because the treaties did 
not conform to Wilson's Fourteen Points. In some respects the treaties 
did not conform to the president's program: futile to deny it. Yet 
without Wilson's work, the treaties would have been more severe 
than they actually were. Suffice it to say that the treaties were prob- 
ably as good as could be secured at the moment, and that if the 

The War: Twenty Years After, 1914-1934 149 

United States had ratified them, the modification of their evil 
features would have been much easier. Looking back over the 
events of the last fifteen years, one cannot avoid the melancholy 
conclusion that the present situation, which causes us so much 
indignation and so much worry, is partly of our own making. 

Is there anything that we can do about it? Our primary interest 
is not to be drawn into another war, and therefore we must be 
profoundly concerned with trying to prevent war. Many still believe 
that we should join the League. But President Roosevelt has said, No, 
and public opinion is still either hostile or indifferent. Yet because 
Mr. Roosevelt has formally recognized the usefulness of the League, 
we certainly should define our relationship to it as precisely as 
possible. My own solution is that the United States should negotiate 
with the League now, before a new situation arises, an agreement 
whereby, without becoming a member, we should promise to consult 
with the League, that is, through the Council, in the event of war 
breaking out or threatening to do so. This can be done by an 
appeal to the Pact of Paris, which practically all nations have signed. 
For the purpose of such consultation, we should accept ad hoc mem- 
bership in the Council. This would not commit us to any action 
without our consent, but it would enable the United States to 
define its position and to ascertain the attitudes of other powers. 
A repetition of the uncertainties which prevented effective action 
in the Manchurian crisis would thus be avoided, and the chances 
of keeping the peace would be greatly increased. If peace could not 
be preserved, our freedom of action would remain unfettered. I 
see nothing to lose and much to gain from such a procedure. 

When all is said, Americans have two things to remember. (1) 
War broke out in 1914 so suddenly that a method for preventing 
it could not be improvised quickly enough. Today, to be sure, a 
procedure exists through the action of the League. But that procedure 
will inevitably be gravely handicapped without the participation of 
the United States, which, in spite of the depression, remains the 
most powerful nation in the world. (2) A new war in Europe will 
have disastrous consequences for us. Either it will involve us or, 
if to avoid being involved, we modify our traditional policy of 
neutrality, we shall suffer huge losses. In either case the result will be 
disastrous. Wherefore, my final word is this: let us be taught by 
the lessons of twenty years, recognize that, however much we may 

150 The Fashion and Future of History 

dislike the fact, we are inextricably involved in the affairs of Europe, 
and evolve a policy towards Europe which will strengthen the forces 
of peace and save our own skins. 

After Munich 

In February 1939 I gave four lectures at the University of Chicago 
on "Twenty-Five Years". The first, "August 4, 1914" , dealt with the 
origins of the war. The second, "April 6, 1917" , discussed the entry 
of the United States into the war. The third, "June 28, 1919" was 
an analysis of the peace treaties, beginning with that of Versailles 
which was signed on the date given. The fourth was entitled "Febru- 
ary 23, 1919V and is here reproduced. It reflects the uncertainty that 
was widespread as to what lay ahead, and in the lecture I tried to 
point out how uncertain Britain, France and the United States were 
as to the best course to pursue. In my own mind, there xuas no 
doubt that we were drifting towards war. In a convocation address 
delivered to the University of Chicago on December 20, 1938, I 
warned the graduating class that their life would be "neither easy 
nor simple" and that they would probably "be called upon to fight 
for the honor and interests of the United States". The only course 
I could suggest was an increase in armaments, which I admitted was 
a "confession of bankruptcy" . 

In 1960 the menace of Soviet Russia and Communist China is 
greater than was the threat from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy 
in 1939. The west is certainly better prepared, from a military point 
of view, to meet a Russian attack than Britain and France were to 
resist Hitler and Mussolini. But on the larger issues of general 
policy, there seems to be considerable lack of agreement between the 
United States, Britain, France and Germany— as much uncertainty 
as existed in 1939, an uncertainty perhaps best reflected by negotia- 
tions for an Anglo-French-Soviet alliance against Germany which 
began auspiciously in March 1939, only to peter out miserably in 

A-iter the lecture last week, a criticism was made that I seemed to 
rely too much upon the recent book of Lloyd George about the 
peace treaties. As it happens, I made no statement last week con- 
cerning the literature of the peace conference. Most of our informa- 


152 The Fashion and Future of History 

tion about the Paris peace conference derives from American sources. 
Books have been written about or by each of the five American 
commissioners— Woodrow Wilson, Robert Lansing, Colonel House, 
Henry White, and General Bliss. We have also the extensive Dairy 
of David Hunter Miller, the most elaborate documentation dealing 
with the treaty. There are also numerous German accounts, several by 
Frenchmen, and one, at least, by an Italian. Hitherto, there has 
been no authoritative account of the peace conference from the 
British point of view. For that reason I deemed it wise to emphasize 
Lloyd George's contributions to the debate, but I was careful to 
say that I did not necessarily agree with all his contentions, be- 
cause his books, like his life, are always controversial. In that con- 
nection, I may remark that the State Department, according to 
recent information, has at last received permission from the govern- 
ments associated with the United States in the war to publish the 
American and other documents in the possession of the State Depart- 
ment relating to the peace conference, and will do so as soon as it can. 1 

For the years since the war, we do not possess the information 
which is available for the pre-war and war years. Very few docu- 
ments, except those of the most routine kind, have been published 
since the war. The European governments occasionally issue docu- 
ments for the information of their respective legislatures, but there 
is nothing comparable to the great collections of pre-war documents, 
and even Foreign Relations of the United States comes down only 
to 1923 at the present time. In other words, the student of post- 
war Europe, or as the late Frank H. Simonds used to say, what we 
must now call pre-war Europe, has to depend in large measure 
upon newspapers. My own impression is that the newspapers find 
out a good deal more about what is going on than they did before 
1914, but from the few, very few, glimpses which I have had of 
politics behind the scenes in the last twenty years, I am well aware that 
the newspapers do not begin to tell us the whole story, and that is, 
I am sure, very much the case with respect to the crisis which cul- 
minated in Munich last September. 2 

My lecture today I find somewhat embarrassing, firstly, for the 
reason that I do believe that it is possible to say anything new about 

i Publication did not begin until 1942 and was not completed until 1947 (13 
volumes) . 

2 Even in 1960 much remains unknown. 

After Munich 153 

Munich. That episode has been so thoroughly discussed from every 
conceivable point of view in the last few months that there is nothing 
new to say, because we have no additional information. People are 
for or against Munich. The second difficulty I face is that I have 
written a little pamphlet, which I know some of you have read, 
called From Versailles to Munich, and I am somewhat in the posi- 
tion of having either to repeat myself today or say nothing at all. 
I have, however, tried to approach the matter from a somewhat 
different angle from that which I have presented in my pamphlet. 

Let me begin by asking why the treaties of 1919-1920 failed, as 
obviously they have failed, to bring peace to a war-weary world. 
Why are we once more living under the shadow of war? Perhaps it 
is not generally realized in this country, where until quite recently 
we felt very safe from the machinations and dangers of Europe, 
that in the last twenty years the world has been going through a 
series of revolutions or attempted revolutions, or revolutions which 
failed to come off. 

In the first place, we have become gradually aware of what is 
commonly called the technological revolution, a modernization and 
speeding up of the processes of industry, so that industry is carried 
on in 1939 by machinery which represents a vast improvement 
over that of 1919. While I do not profess to know, any more than 
the economists do, whether in the long run technological improve- 
ments make for unemployment, it would seem obvious that many 
improvements have thrown a lot of people at least temporarily out 
of work, and thereby contributed to human misery. That explains 
in part, though not altogether, the second revolution of which I 
wish to speak, the one of which we are becoming increasingly con- 
scious—what I should call the revolt of the masses against the 
classes. That has been induced in large measure by the misery created 
by and since the war. I had occasion in an earlier lecture to point out 
that the battle losses of the United States were insignificant in 
comparison with the losses of the European states. Similarly, our 
privations were not really privations at all, and when the war was 
over we were able to resume life on the standard and scale to which 
we had been accustomed. 

That was not true in Europe. The destruction of property and 
the disarray into which the European economic system was thrown 
by the war made it impossible for Europeans since the war to 

154 The Fashion and Future of History 

maintain the standard of living to which they had grown accustomed 
before 1914. Sometimes their difficulties were the consequences of 
the peace treaties, notably in Germany, where the occupation of the 
Ruhr by France and Belgium led to inflation on a tremendous 
scale, in a large measure destroyed the middle class, and in my 
judgment paved the way for Hitler. Then, as I pointed out last 
week, high tariffs and the interruption of old trade routes pre- 
vented the old economic machine from functioning properly. The 
result has been, therefore, a diminution of the standard of living 
in Europe since the war, and it is that which explains this revolt 
of the masses against the classes. 

That occurred earliest and has proceeded furthest in Russia, where 
a nominally Communist, though more accurately a State-Capitalist 
state has existed for more than twenty years. The Fascist revolution 
in Italy, the Nazi revolution in Germany, was each, I think, a 
revolt of the lower middle classes, who had been driven desperate by 
economic conditions, against property. Curiously enough, both revolu- 
tions were in the first instance fostered by the propertied classes 
in the hope that Communism would thereby be staved off, but it 
is notorious that in both Italy and Germany the revolution is tending 
more and more toward the left. 

Far behind these three most conspicuous revolutions, I would 
place the revolution in Spain, which overturned the monarchy in 
1930; the rise of the Popular Front in France three years ago; and, 
though some may be horrified to hear me say it, others may be 
pleased, the New Deal in our own country. There is a great dif- 
ference, obviously, between the regime established in Russia and 
the aims of the New Deal in this country, but both have this in 
common, I think— they represent the revolt of the masses against 
the classes. That has been going on, in greater or less degree, for 
twenty years, and no one will dare say what the end may be. 

Secondly, there has been a revolt against the peace treaties, which 
goes back at least to 1931, when the Japanese marched into Man- 
churia. Technically, Manchuria was not involved in the peace 
treaties, but it should be remembered that the peace treaties did 
give Japan the German rights, titles, and privileges in the Chinese 
province of Shantung; that the pressure of Great Britain, France, 
and the United States at the Washington Conference of 1921 forced 
Japan to give up in Shantung what the treaty of Versailles had 

After Munich 155 

awarded it, and the Japanese seizure of Manchuria in 1931 may be 
regarded, I think, as a retort for the loss of Shantung. This was the 
first stage in the program for recasting the world as settled at Paris 
in 1919-1920. It has been followed by the Italian conquest of 
Ethiopia, and the German conquest of Austria and part of Czecho- 
slovakia. 3 The revolt against the peace treaties, then, is in full 
swing, and again, no one can say where it is going to end. 

Fourthly, there was an attempted revolution in international life. 
I refer, of course, to the establishment of the League of Nations, 
and the attempt to bring about a reduction and limitation of arma- 
ments. The idea of an association of nations and the idea of reducing 
armaments are both quite old; but not until the treaties of 1919 was 
an association of nations actually set up, or did the governments 
of the great powers pledge themselves to a reduction and limitation of 
armaments. If those high hopes had been realized, a revolution would 
have occurred in the conduct of international relations, and probably 
a good deal of the misery of the world at the present time would 
have been avoided. Unfortunately, that revolution failed to take 
permanent root in the case of the League, because it never had 
full membership. The United States never joined; Russia did not 
join until after Germany and Japan had left; and obviously a 
League of Nations, an association of nations, whatever you choose 
to call it, can be effective only if all the great powers of the world 
belong to it. Subsequent efforts of the United States to cooperate 
politically with Geneva have failed. The fault has not been entirely 
with the European members of the League. There are many inherent 
difficulties which it is impossible to discuss here. Suffice it to say that 
the attempt of the United States in 1931 and again in 1935 to 
cooperate with Geneva came to naught. 

In the second place, disarmament proved impossible of realiza- 
tion. When the United States failed to ratify the Franco-American 
treaty of alliance which was regarded by the French as an integral 
part of the peace settlement, and when the British took advantage of 
our refusal to refuse to ratify the corresponding Anglo-French treaty, 
the French became "jittery." They refused to rely upon the Covenant 
of the League, they refused to disarm. They built up a system of 
alliances in eastern Europe to replace the Anglo-French and Franco- 

3 Germany seized the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. 

156 The Fashion and Future of History 

American alliances, and they felt that with 65,000,000 Germans on 
their frontier they dared not disarm. 

True, in December 1932, six weeks before the advent of Hitler 
to power, Great Britain, France, Italy, and the United States signed 
a declaration at Geneva recognizing, in principle, the right of 
Germany to an equality in armaments, but before that could be 
translated into reality, Hitler arrived in power, and subsequently, in 
1933, the Allied governments refused to implement their declara- 
tion of 1932, and the last chances of disarmament disappeared. 

The revolution, then, that was hoped for in the conduct of in- 
ternational relations has not materialized, but the revolt against the 
peace treaties is still in progress, and the revolt of the masses against 
the classes is still in progress. We are, therefore, in a period of revolu- 
tion of which we, in the United States, are far less conscious than 
the inhabitants of Europe. Against that general background, let me 
attempt a brief and necessarily inadequate chronological summary of 
the last twenty years. 

The first period extends from 1919, the signature of the treaties, to 
the year 1924, the period in which an attempt was made to apply 
and enforce the peace treaties. During these years the ex-enemy states 
were still too exhausted from the war to do anything more than 
submit to the orders of the Allied powers. The territorial settlements 
were imposed. The new governments were established, and the princi- 
pal concern of the time was to get the economic machine started so 
that Europe might recover from the ravages of the war. 

But that problem was greatly complicated by reparations, on 
the one hand, and by the Allied war debts to the United States, 
on the other; the effect of those two problems was to prevent the 
establishment of normal economic relations between the European 
states. Germany had suffered very little physical disruption during 
the war, whereas a considerable section of France and Belgium had 
been devastated. It was perfectly natural, perfectly human, for 
the French and the Belgians and in lesser degree Italians and Serbs 
and Poles to demand that Germany make good the damage done 
during the war. The trouble was to find some way in which the 
Germans could make good the damage in a practical fashion, and 
so the problem of transfer, the problem of transferring reparations 
from Germany to the Allied countries very soon became a burning 
question, and Great Britain and France quickly fell out. 

After Munich 157 

Lloyd George, still prime minister, took the view that the figures 
of the Reparations Commission were excessive, that the Allied 
countries could not afford to take German goods beyond a certain 
amount. He had seen to it that the principal British losses, namely 
ships on the high seas which had been sunk by German submarines, 
had been made good ton for ton, but when the French in turn asked 
that the factories in northern France be made good machine by 
machine and destroyed houses be replaced by new houses, Lloyd 
George objected. So France and England fell out on the issue of 

In the end, the French decided that the only way to make the 
Germans pay was to invade the Ruhr, and that invasion unques- 
tionably had the effect of creating in Germany more of a will to 
pay than had existed before. On the other hand, the invasion of the 
Ruhr was the beginning of Germany's economic distress. It led to 
boundless inflation, from which Germany never really recovered, and 
it was during the days of the Ruhr that Adolf Hitler first began to 
organize his party and to write Mein Kampf. The Ruhr occupation 
was in no small degree responsible for the misery of the classes who 
subsequently flocked to the support of Hitler. 

During that same period, Germany and Russia, strange as it may 
sound today, were not only on speaking terms, but were actually 
concluding a treaty between themselves (1922) , because they were 
both outcasts— the Russians because they were Reds; the Germans 
because they would not pay reparations. 

The second period begins in 1924, and extends to 1929. Those 
five years represent the best years of Europe since the war. The 
occupation of the Ruhr had brought all concerned to a realization of 
the difficulties involved in reparations. The Germans were made to 
see that they had to pay something, and the French had found out 
by experience that it profited them very little to occupy German soil. 
In the end, it was the United States, through the so-called Dawes 
Committee, which was largely responsible for a compromise on the 
question of reparations. The Dawes plan was accepted by the Euro- 
pean states, went into effect in 1924, and functioned until 1929. 
During those years, Germany paid reparations, and France was 
satisfied, relatively. During those same years, a beginning was made 
towards an adjustment of the war debts of the Allies to the United 
States. So from the economic point of view, Europe, as the phrase 

158 The Fashion and Future of History 

ran in those days, had "turned the corner," and much encouragement 
was derived from the fact that the German foreign minister of 
those days, Gustav Stresemann, believed that the best way for Ger- 
many to recover its position in Europe and the world was to pursue 
a "policy of fulfillment," and seemingly he had converted the majority 
of his countrymen to that view. 

Hence it was possible to negotiate the treaties of Locarno between 
Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, 
which created a greater degree of political stability in Europe than 
had existed at any time since the war. By the Locarno treaties, the 
western frontier between Germany and France was guaranteed by 
Britain and Italy, and the eastern frontier of Germany between 
Poland and Czechoslovakia was likewise declared inviolable, and 
those three states agreed to settle any disputes which might arise 
among them by methods of conciliation. 

Looking back, those years from 1924 to 1939 do seem like a 
golden age. What we are apt to forget is that the German reparations 
were paid in large measure by American loans. We loaned money 
to Germany, and Germany used the loan to pay England and France, 
and they in turn used that money to pay the interest on their war 
debt to the United States. So a considerable part of the money never 
left the United States at all, thus involving no question of transfer, 
and as a friend of mine rather amusingly remarked about 1927, 
all that had happened was that there was a little bookkeeping in 
the office of J. P. Morgan and Company. We did not then realize that 
Germany could continue to pay reparations on the scale of the 
Dawes plan only if we lent it the money to do so. 

Nor were the political issues clearly faced in those years. There 
was no adjustment of territorial disputes; no concession to the ex- 
enemy states in the matter of minorities; no serious attempt in the 
direction of a limitation of armaments. What the Germans attached 
great importance to, though an exaggerated importance I think, was 
Article 231 of the treaty of Versailles which, as the Germans in- 
terpreted it, assessed them with the responsibility for the war. 

The year 1929 marks the beginning of the third period, which 
extends to 1933. The period begins with the crash in Wall Street 
in October 1929 and ends with the advent of Herr Hitler in Berlin 
and of Mr. Roosevelt in Washington in 1933. The crash of 1929 was 
in its earlier manifestations little more than a stock market crash. 

After Munich 159 

It took two years for the ramifications of the Wall Street disaster 
to make themselves felt. But by 1931 serious financial difficulties arose 
in Austria, then in Germany, next in Great Britain, and lastly in 
the United States. The crash in May 1931 of the famous Viennese 
bank, the Credit-Anstalt, put the German banks in great financial 
difficulties, and since they in turn were in debt to London, English 
banks suffered severely, and the result was that by September 1931 
England had to go off the gold standard, and from that day to this 
the financial difficulties of all governments have been acute. 

By 1932, with the cessation of American loans and the increasing 
difficulties in Germany, reparations were brought to an end. The 
Allied governments recognized that, whatever their legal or moral 
rights might be, it was impossible to get any more money out of 
Germany, so reparations were written off, for all practical purposes, 
by the Lausanne agreement of 1932. But that helped a sinking 
world comparatively little, because in September 1931 the Japanese, 
sensing the troubles of Europe and America, invaded Manchuria, 
and that I regard as the beginning of our present woes. Because of the 
Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the disarmament conference which 
met at Geneva in February 1932 was not able to accomplish any- 
thing. I happened to be in Geneva during the conference and was 
keenly aware that the whole proceedings were profoundly affected 
by what the Japanese were doing in Manchuria. 

Meanwhile, economic distress in Germany, after the cessation 
of American loans, was mounting so rapidly that Chancellor Briining, 
who enjoyed the respect of French and British statesmen as had 
none of his predecessors, was forced to govern in most dictatorial 
fashion, and thereby made the way easy for the establishment of a 
formal dictatorship when Hitler arrived in power. 

The fourth period begins with the advent of Hitler in January, 
1933, and ends with the agreement of Munich in September, 1938. 
During those five years there was considerable economic recovery 
throughout the world, but it is becoming evident that in large 
measure that recovery was due to the process of rearmament which 
Hitler inaugurated shortly after he attained power. In fact, the 
outstanding feature of the five years from 1933 to 1938 is the rise 
of Germany to power. In 1932, Germany was still disarmed and 
practically helpless. In five years, Hitler had raised it to the first 
military power in Europe. During those five years, both Great 

160 The Fashion and Future of History 

Britain and France, as it seems to me, refused to face the issue 
presented by the recovery of Germany. On the one hand, they re- 
fused practically all concessions to Germany, and they made very 
little concession to Italy. That was an intelligible attitude, if at the 
same time they provided themselves with the power necessary to con- 
front German and Italian demands, but on the other hand in 
neither Britain nor France did the process of building up military 
power keep pace with the political attitude of refusing to make 
concessions to Germany and Italy. 

In Great Britain, there was indeed considerable sympathy with 
Germany, a feeling that many of Germany's demands were justi- 
fied. So, when Hitler took the crucial step of re-occupying the 
Rhineland, the British government accepted it without protest and 
refused to support France in a policy of forcing the Germans out. 

In France, ever since 1934, the cleavage between Right and Left has 
become more and more marked. From 1936 to 1938 the Popular Front 
was in power, but whereas in an earlier period the Left parties in 
France were in favor of concessions to Germany, the government 
of Leon Blum and his successors was not willing to make con- 
cessions to Germany because they disliked the dictatorial regime 
which prevailed in Germany. Unfortunately also, Britain and France 
could not agree upon the proper method of dealing with Italy 
over the Ethiopian crisis. France would have liked to buy off Musso- 
lini, but Britain was unwilling to do that, and the result was that 
Italy was neither bought off nor brought to terms through the 
operation of sanctions. Likewise, Britain and France showed con- 
siderable reluctance, after what may be called the return of Russia 
to Europe in 1934— that is to say, when Russia joined the League 
of Nations— to cooperate with Russia in building a common front 
against Germany and Italy. 

The result was that when the crisis of 1938 arose, Great Britain 
and France were not able to oppose to the totalitarian states either 
military force sufficient to overawe them, or a diplomatic combina- 
tion powerful enough to restrain them. On the other hand, the 
totalitarian states, both Germany and Italy, have known exactly what 
they wanted to do, and long ago came to the conclusion that the 
only way they would be able to revise the treaties would be by 
force or the threat of force, and they provided themselves with the 
force. Mussolini used it in Ethiopia, and Hitler used it in the 

After Munich 161 

Rhineland and used it in Austria and threatened to use it in 

The United States sat back and looked helplessly on, partly 
because of disgust with the quarrels of Europe, partly because our 
hands were tied by neutrality legislation. So we reach the crisis of 
last September. 

The only point I wish to make about Munich is that I do not be- 
lieve there was a Chamberlain-Hitler plot to "put something over." 
A former distinguished member of this University 4 has declared that 
Chamberlain and Daladier were in "cahoots" with Hitler and Mus- 
solini to stage a fake crisis, knowing all along that war would not 
result, but planning to terrorize the British and French peoples by 
the threat of war so that they would consent to the dismemberment of 
Czechoslovakia. Now, my personal opinion is that Great Britain and 
France had got themselves into a desperate situation, diplomatically 
and militarily, by September 1938. They both were reaping the fruits 
of mistakes during the past five, ten, twenty years. But I am not con- 
vinced on the basis of the evidence now available that Mr. Chamber- 
lain and Monsieur Daladier deliberately staged a fake crisis in order 
to bamboozle their own people. Those who were in England and 
France last September do not believe that the crisis was faked. 

I was told about a month ago by a distinguished British statesman 
who was in Chicago, who though not a member of the British govern- 
ment has access to excellent sources of information, 5 that in his judg- 
ment not only was Hitler not bluffing, but that he actually regards 
Munich as a diplomatic defeat. That may sound like an extraordinary 
statement. What he means is that Hitler was all set to march the 
German armies into Czechoslovakia. He wished to do that in order to 
demonstrate to the world the might and power of the German armies. 
After all, that was the same attitude that William II took on several 
occasions before the late war. According to this theory, then, Hitler 
was determined to march his armies into Czechoslovakia, and there- 
fore, when, under the pressure of Chamberlain and Daladier and 
Mussolini, he had to content himself with a peaceful handing over of 
the areas which he demanded, he felt that he had been diplomatically 

4 Professor F. L. Schuman, of Williams College. 

5 The late Lord Lothian, who became British ambassador to Washington in 
August 1939. His view is now known to have been correct. 

162 The Fashion and Future of History 

defeated, and there is certainly a good deal in the events of the last 
six months to bear out that interpretation of the situation. 

As for Mr. Chamberlain— does he really believe in the policy of 
"appeasement," or was he seeking to gain time? Frankly, I do not 
know. The best judges appear to think that from a military point 
of view, Britain and France were not in a position to face Germany 
and Italy in September 1938; that the German-Italian air force was 
far superior to that of Britain and France; and that therefore the 
motive behind the Anglo-French surrender was to gain time. That is 
a question which we are not likely to be able to answer in any authori- 
tative fashion in the lifetime of those who took the decisions. We shall 
have to wait for the opening of archives and the publication of private 
documents before we can answer such questions with any degree of 
certainty. So that brings me now, at last, to the subject of my lecture, 
the prospects on February 23, 1939. 

To me it seems clear— I express all these opinions very tentatively— 
that appeasement has for the moment failed; that neither Hitler nor 
Mussolini is satisfied; and that the chances are unfortunately only too 
good that both Hitler and Mussolini will presently put forward new 
demands which will precipitate a new crisis. As to which way they 
will move or when they will move, I do not pretend to guess. There 
are those who also expect Japan to move against the Soviet Union. 

That raises the double question: Should the dictator states be 
stopped? Can they be stopped? Some persons argue that it is folly to 
try to stop the "dynamic" states. There are 43,000,000 Italians, 
40,000,000 Frenchmen. There are 80,000,000 Germans, 45,000,000 
Britons. What chance, it is argued, have Britain and France of per- 
manently stopping Germany and Italy, especially as the British and 
French peoples show considerable reluctance to disciplining and 
organizing themselves in such fashion as will enable them to build up 
the kind of war machine which Germany and Italy possess at the 
present time? 

From that it can be argued that the world had better be re-divided. 
Let Germany dominate eastern Europe and the Balkans. Let Italy 
have a free hand in the Mediterranean, and let Japan take China, if 
it can. The Soviet Union will still be a world by itself; the British 
Empire is a commonwealth spread all over the world, more economi- 
cally self-sufficient than any other single power; the French empire is 
not far behind. Why should the European states fight each other to 

After Munich 163 

the death when they can divide the world between them at the ex- 
pense of China and small nations in eastern Europe? The logical 
conclusion of that theory would be that the new world, the western 
hemisphere, would remain the preserve of the United States, which 
would assume a kind of guardianship, wanted or not, over the states 
lying to the South of us. 

Well, it may be that such a reorganization of the world is on the 
cards, and if one could be assured that such a re-division would mean 
permanent peace, I am sure a large number of people all over the 
world would be in favor of it. For us Americans, of course, the ques- 
tion at once arises, will the dynamic states allow us to dominate Latin 
America? Will they not insist upon carrying on there propaganda 
against us, impeding the progress of American trade, American insti- 
tutions, and putting as many spokes as possible in our wheel? 

The other question is a more difficult one. Can the dynamic states 
be stopped by the democratic, peace-loving states of the world? I saw 
the other day a review of a book by the former correspondent in 
Geneva of the New York Times, Mr. Clarence Streit. I have not read 
the book, so I know only what I read in the review. According to the 
review, Mr. Streit points out that the democratic, peace-loving na- 
tions of the world far exceed the dynamic states in number, in 
population, in resources; that it is up to them to decide whether they 
wish to stop the dynamic states. His argument apparently is that if 
the United States, Great Britain, and France, and the other democratic 
states of Europe, are willing to pool their resources, and if necessary 
to shut off or reduce their dealings with the totalitarian states to a 
minimum, that they are in a position to stop the totalitarian states. 
But obviously that is the greatest question facing us at the present day. 
I do not propose to answer that question here, because 1 know that 
I, like yourselves, can not answer it. 

Of one or two things I am, however, certain. One is that if we 
decide that the dynamic powers must be stopped, we cannot do it by 
wishful thinking. We have to address ourselves to the problem with 
the same deadly earnestness that we manifested in 1917-18. Talking 
will not stop Hitler or Mussolini or the Mikado. If we are to stop 
them, we have to organize ourselves in some fashion so that the dy- 
namic states will realize that the United States cannot be trifled with. 

Here I come back for a moment to the experiences of 1914-1917. In 
October 1914 Colonel House urged upon President Wilson that the 

164 The Fashion and Future of History 

United States should add greatly to its army and navy, pointing out 
that unless we did so, we should be treated with scant respect by both 
belligerents in the European war. Events proved Colonel House right. 
The British turned the screws of the blockade as tight as they felt they 
could. The Germans defied us on the submarine issue because they 
thought we would not or could not fight. I am convinced that if, when 
Congress met in December 1914 President Wilson had said to Con- 
gress, "We are facing an unparalleled situation; we are being affected 
in one way or another by both groups of warring powers; it is neces- 
sary to add in large measure to the army and navy of the United 
States and do so as quickly as possible"— if he had taken that attitude 
and could have persuaded Congress to accept it, I doubt very much if 
the British would have turned the screws of the blockade so hard, 
or if the Germans would have applied submarine warfare so reck- 

I admit that to advocate armament is a counsel of despair, a con- 
fession that statesmanship is bankrupt. But I, for one, see no possible 
alternative but for the United States to proceed as rapidly and as 
thoroughly as possible to the accumulation of armaments to such a 
strength that if, unhappily, war does break out in Europe, all belliger- 
ents will feel that they must proceed to deal very cautiously with the 
United States, and that the knowledge that the United States will be 
strong enough to defend its interests may— I will not put it more 
strongly— may have some effect in preventing the outbreak of war. 

I say that because nothing is more encouraging to me than the 
cries of rage now emerging from Germany and Italy over the arma- 
ment program of the United States. They know, both Germany and 
Italy, that if it does come to a test of endurance, however reluctant 
we may be to do so, the United States can outbuild Germany and 
Italy in ships and planes. We have more resources than both of them 
put together. They are furious with our proposed program precisely 
because they know that if we cast our weight into the balance, their 
game will be definitely lost. 

Therefore, whatever the cost to us, it seems to be an elementary 
precaution for us to gird our loins and make it clear to the world in 
unmistakable fashion that we can and will fight, if necessary. 

The United States on the Verge of World War II 

As soon as the Second World War broke out in September 1939, I 
was called upon to explain the causes of the catastrophe, and in the 
course of the next few months, I delivered three speeches on this 
subject in Chicago. 

I put the blame squarely on Adolf Hitler, who for years had an- 
nounced his intention of tearing up the Treaty of Versailles imposed 
on Germany in 1919; I admitted that Germany had some just griev- 
ances under the treaty and that the Allies— Britain and France— had 
been to slow in making concessions which might have staved off the 
Nazi regime; I also recognized that Britain and France had allowed 
Germany to get ahead of them militarily and that by 1938-1939 they 
were so weak that Hitler was convinced he could defeat them and was 
thus encouraged to precipitate war. Finally, I contended that the 
United States, by not joining the League of Nations and by withdraw- 
ing from European politics, bore some measure of responsibility for 
the second German war. 

After the fall of France in June 1940, 1 soon became convinced that 
Britain, standing alone, was not likely to defeat Germany and Italy, 
especially as Russia was supplying Germany with raw materials. So 
I supported the Com,mittee to Aid the Allies organized by William 
Allen White, and then Lend Lease. In this cause I made speeches in 
Chicago and at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. The address here 
reproduced was given before the international section of the south- 
western meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of 
Science held at Lubbock, Texas, on April 29, 1941, that is, nearly two 
months before the German attack on Russia and more than seven 
months before Pearl Harbor. In the summer of 1941 I joined with 
130 other members of the faculty of the University of Chicago in 
urging President Roosevelt to take whatever action was necessary to 
keep the sea lanes open from the United States to Britain, even at the 
risk of war. 

In 1960 the American people are more aware of the danger to which 
they are exposed by the policies and ambitions of the Soviet Union 
than they were in 1941 conscious of the situation created by Hitler, 


166 The Fashion and Future of History 

and there is a great deal of uneasiness about our future. But whereas 
in 1941 the administration of President Roosevelt was moving, step 
by step, in a policy designed to defend the interests of the United 
States, neither the Republican administration of 1960 nor the Demo- 
cratic Congress seems to have a clear idea of what they want to do or 
what should be done. In an election year, both seem reluctant to im- 
pose the taxes which the exigencies of the situation may demand. 
Having lived through the crises of 1915-1917 and 1940-1941, I am 
more conscious of drift than in either of the earlier periods. By the 
time this paper appears in print, the presidential election will have 
been held, and one can only hope that the new president will be able 
to formulate a convincing policy around which the people of the 
country can rally. 

We are facing the greatest crisis in the history of our country since 
we obtained our independence, and are facing it without clear con- 
victions. During the Civil War of 1861-65, each side fought with a 
passionate belief in the justice of its cause. In 1917 we went to war as 
a united people, with the sincere intention of making the world safe 
for democracy. Today we feel so overwhelmed by the events of the 
last few years that we do not know what we think. A recent Gallup 
poll put the question, Are you in favor of going into the war or of 
staying out? and eighty-three percent declared for staying out. Another 
Gallup poll revealed that nearly as large a majority— seventy-two per- 
cent, if I remember rightly, as opposed to eighty-three— supported the 
Lease-Lend Bill, that is, accepted the plan of aid to Britain even at 
the risk of war. That two such contradictory attitudes could be as- 
sumed almost simultaneously is surely proof of the confusion in which 
the American people find themselves. For this desperate situation, we 
are in no small degree ourselves responsible, because for twenty years 
the American people, in my opinion, followed false gods. 

In 1919-1920 the United States threw away the fruits of victory 
which it had won in the First World War. Because the peace treaties 
did not in every detail measure up to the Fourteen Points of President 
Wilson and the ideals for which we had fought, it was possible for a 
small group of irrepressibly partisan politicians so to confuse the issue 
that the Senate of the United States rejected the treaties. The verdict 

The United States on the Verge of World War II 167 

was seemingly confirmed by the election of 1920. Not only did we 
thus reject the principle of international cooperation, but by refus- 
ing to join the League of Nations we destroyed the fundamental basis 
of the peace treaties and encouraged those who did not like the treaties 
to try to tear them up. 

The treaties were not perfect, but they were far better than par- 
tisan criticism admitted, and they contained the means for improve- 
ment and change. By rejecting the treaties because they were not 
perfect, the United States restored a kind of international anarchy to 
a world which had at least caught a vision of something better. Com- 
petent observers of the years from 1919 to 1939, who approach the 
question as historians and not as vote-seeking politicians, are now 
pretty generally agreed that our share of responsibility for the chaos 
of the world is a large one. When all is said, the United States did 
help to formulate the treaties; and although by failing to ratify them, 
it escaped any legal commitment, its moral obligation was immense. 

What might have happened if we had joined the League of Nations 
and played our proper part in the politics of the world is, of course, 
an academic question. But one guess may be ventured. Had we rati- 
fied the treaties, we should have sat on the Reparations Commission, 
and the probability is that we should have voted against declaring 
Germany in default on the payment of reparation at the end of 1922; 
in other words, we should have prevented the invasion of the Ruhr 
by France. It was that invasion which destroyed the German economy 
and paved the way for Adolf Hitler, who wrote Mein Kampf during 
the last period of the invasion. 

It would, of course, be absurd to contend that all the problems of a 
world recovering from the most devastating war in history could have 
been automatically solved by the adherence of the United States to 
the League of Nations, for on many issues the policy and interests of 
the United States are not the same as those of European and Asiatic 
countries. Nevertheless, our absence from Geneva injured the League 
both positively and negatively: positively, because we contributed 
nothing to such constructive steps as it tried to take; negatively, be- 
cause its policies were often timid so long as the attitude of the rich- 
est and most powerful nation in the world remained obscure. The 
more the League failed to deal successfully with problems thrust upon 
it — Manchuria, Ethiopia, Spain — the more dangerous and desperate 
the situation became; but American opinion did little more than de- 

168 The Fashion and Future of History 

nounce the League for lack of courage and prevented the government 
of the United States from offering effective help. 

In the ten years from 1919 to 1929, the United States extended its 
economic empire to the most distant areas of the globe. In some mys- 
terious fashion a majority of the American people persuaded them- 
selves that they could protect these vast interests without taking part 
in the politics of the world, while a minority, belonging chiefly to the 
Left, thought the interests not worth protecting. After 1931 the 
Japanese conquest of Manchuria and the subsequent invasion of 
China caused enormous losses to American enterprise in the Far 
East. After 1933 the crooked finance of Nazi Germany cost American 
investors in German bonds millions of dollars. Yet few Americans 
were apparently willing to recognize that our peace and prosperity 
depended on stability elsewhere. 

Since we were foolish enough— as I think— to reject the League and 
withdraw into our shell, we should have drawn the logical conclusion 
of isolation, that is, we should have built up a military, naval, and 
air force so powerful that we could defend our interests against all 
comers. Instead of doing that, we disarmed; at least we went much 
further in disarmament than any European or Asiatic power, and as- 
sumed that treaties were more effective than guns. Would to God we 
had today the battleships, cruisers, and aircraft carriers that we 
scrapped in 1922! For the next ten years we cherished the cheap and 
comforting theory that public opinion in Europe and Asia, still re- 
membering the horrors of 1914-1918, would be both anxious and able 
to prevent another war. Those who preached international coopera- 
tion were denounced as the tools of British and French propaganda 
(whereas the most energetic propaganda came in fact from Germany) , 
and those who advocated a large navy were alleged to be subsidized 
by munitions makers. Since America seemed fully protected by the 
two oceans, what happened on the other side of those oceans was none 
of our business. The most we would offer to the cause of world peace 
was the Briand-Kellogg pact, which did not provide for any implemen- 
tation or even for consultation among its signatories— and which broke 
down as early as 1929 when Secretary of State Stimson unsuccessfully 
tried to apply it on the occasion of a dispute in Manchuria between 
China and Russia. 

Not content with assuming an unrealistic attitude of political virtue, 
we embarked upon an economic policy which was fatuous in the 

The United States on the Verge of World War II 169 

extreme and which was repeatedly denounced by the most competent 
economists in the United States. On the one hand, we urged our Euro- 
pean associates in the war to reduce the amount of reparations which 
they wished to collect from Germany, and at the same time we tried to 
collect from them the debts which they had contracted with us in 
order to win the war and to start their reconstruction after the war. 
Oblivious to this inconsistency, we also raised our tariffs to such a 
point that our debtors found it very difficult to pay us what we de- 
manded in the only way open to them, namely, goods. Not even the 
collapse of the fragile structure in 1929 disabused American opinion 
of its folly, for in 1930 the tariff was again raised. It will also be 
remembered that we loaned large sums of money to Germany. In so 
far as these loans could be floated because many Americans believed 
that Germany had been unjustly treated, that it needed help, and 
that the payment of German reparations would facilitate the recovery 
and stability of Europe, they did credit to American generosity and 
sentimentality; but these enormous investments also helped finance 
the building of factories which would sooner or later compete with 
our own industries. 

From 1933 to 1939 the Democratic administration tried to offset 
the consequences of these mistakes. President Roosevelt attempted to 
restore some measure of international cooperation by overtures to 
Geneva. Secretary of State Hull aimed to restore international trade 
to its normal channels through the Reciprocal Trade act. A histor- 
ian has to recognize, however, that what they tried to do met with 
much resistance from the American people. Mr. Hull's trade policy 
aroused no great enthusiasm, and effective co-operation by the United 
States against Italian aggression in Ethiopia and Japanese aggression 
in China was blocked by the indifference of the public and the hos- 
tility of Congress. 

These aggressions, followed by the German seizure of Austria and 
the partition of Czechoslovakia, did strip us of illusions to some ex- 
tent. At least they made clear that force, naked military force, was 
still the determining factor in international relations, and conse- 
quently President Roosevelt's plans for increasing the American navy 
were accepted. But if old illusions were partly dissipated, new delu- 
sions appeared in their stead. A group of politicians was pleased to in- 
vestigate the circumstances in which the United States went to war 
in 1917 and announced the conclusion, preposterous and unproved, 

170 The Fashion and Future of History 

that bankers and munitions makers had maneuvered the American 
people into war for their own profit. At the same time another group 
wrote books alleging that British propaganda, rather than German 
misdeeds, had been the cause of our entering the war; that the Ger- 
man misdeeds had been intelligible and excusable, and no worse than 
British misdeeds; that in short, we had been bamboozled or betrayed 
into war. Such conclusions can be reached only by a distorted read- 
ing of the evidence. But the American people, worn down by years 
of depression and disgusted by the troubles of Europe and Asia, were 
in a defeatist mood and disposed once more not to face realities. This, 
I submit, is the only plausible explanation of that last word in 
fatuity, the Neutrality Act, which was deliberately intended to ham- 
string us as a great power in the affairs of the world. 

This neutrality legislation probably had much to do with the out- 
break of war in Europe in 1939. In my opinion it convinced Adolf 
Hitler that the American people had become so soft, so sunk in sloth 
and materialism, that they would and could not rise again to the 
heights of 1917 and that Germany, with her highly perfected war 
machine, could conquer Europe in short order. And have we not be- 
come soft? A considerable number of young men are opposed to any 
policy which may necessitate their fighting, and a great many parents 
are equally determined that their boys shall not be exposed to such 
risks. There was no such holding back in 1861, North or South. In 
1917 the men of my generation did not hesitate. In each case the 
American spirit asserted and vindicated itself. The present inclination 
to place personal safety ahead of national interest is, 1 respectfully 
submit, the last word in that muddled thinking which has brought 
us to our present desperate pass. 

When war broke out in 1914, the instinctive American reaction was 
to keep out of it, for we knew very little about Europe and what we 
knew was none too good. In 1939, we knew a great deal about Europe 
and what we knew was all too bad. More than ever before we wished 
to keep out, and for the first nine months, down to the fall of France, 
it was easy to believe that we could stay out. But my own belief, as 
you may already suspect, is that the foreign policy of the United 
States cannot be constructed on any abstruse hypothesis that we must 
stay out of war, that is, stay out at all costs. Any nation can stay out 
of war, theoretically, if it is cowardly enough to submit to any terms 
which a would-be conquerer may try to impose on it. That might 

The United States on the Verge of World War II 171 

bring peace, peace of a kind, but not peace with honor or security. 
In my opinion, we must pursue a foreign policy which will protect 
the interests of the United States— by peace, if we can, but if neces- 
sary, by war. 

Lest you think me a warmonger, let me say now that I served in 
the army of the United States in the last war. I was above the draft 
age, but I enlisted when I could pass the physical examination. If I 
am today not a peace-at-any-pricer, I am not assuming a position 
other than that which I was willing to defend twenty-four years ago 
when I was of military age. 

A recent visitor to the United States, the Archduke Otto of Habs- 
burg, the pretender to the throne of Hungary, was much impressed 
by the freedom of speech, meeting, and religion which we enjoy— 
and by the fact that we took it for granted. Why can we take this 
freedom for granted? Not because it is innate in human experience! 
We enjoy those blessings in the United States today because some 
three hundred years ago Englishmen fought a civil war, deposed King 
Charles I and cut off his head, and later deposed King James II and 
sent him into exile. Did they accomplish these things by act of par- 
liament? No, they accomplished those things by appeal to the sword. 
In 1783 we achieved our independence from Great Britain. Did Great 
Britain willingly grant that independence? No, it was compelled to 
grant it because it was faced by the superior military force of France 
and the United States. In 1865 union triumphed over secession. Did 
the South willingly submit to that? No, it submitted because of the 
superior force of the Northern army. In 1918 William II fled to 
Holland and the German Empire collapsed. Did he do this of his own 
volition, because Woodrow Wilson had hinted at it? No, he did so 
because of the superior force of the Allied and Associated armies. 

So it has been from the beginning of time, and so it is in our own 
time. We shall not be able to preserve our American way of life in 
the world of today by wishful thinking, but only if we are willing to 
fight for it. We must become as hardboiled as our ancestors were in 
1776 and 1861 and 1917. 

What are the legitimate interests which we must be prepared to 
defend, if necessary, by force? First of all, the territorial integrity of 
the United States which, I may remind you, includes, until July 4, 
1946, the Philippine Islands. Whether the Japanese have designs on 
those islands may not be conclusively proved, but there is ample 

172 The Fashion and Future of History 

ground for suspicion, and until the islands become independent, we 
are in honor bound to defend them. This will not be an easy job, but 
we have to face it. 

Secondly, we intend to maintain our political independence, by 
which I mean the right to determine our own government and insti- 
tutions free from external pressure and without the interference of 
fifth columnists of any stripe. In view of what happened last year in 
Norway and elsewhere, it is obvious that this is not an imaginary 

Thirdly, we have learned in the last twelve years that economic 
security is a complicated and delicate business. Though we are more 
happily situated than any other nation, we do not provide within our 
borders all the raw materials needed in our industry, and we do not 
consume all the products of our machines and fields. In other words, 
access to natural resources and the continuance of international trade 
are of vital concern to us. 

Lastly, we have vast cultural and non-material interests throughout 
the world of which we are very proud, notably in China. 

To me it seems obvious— only too obvious— that an Axis victory 
would greatly jeopardize these vital interests of the United States. 
The most immediate consequence will be to place us in a position of 
naval inferiority. With the British fleet out of the picture, the Axis 
will have more of every kind of fighting ship than ourselves— battle- 
ships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines. According to 
a statement in the New York Times for Sunday, April 20, 1941, we 
have 322 ships with a tonnage of 1,250,000, as against 658 ships with 
a tonnage of 1,835,000 for the Axis. No doubt our present feverish 
construction will reduce the Axis lead, but if Germany succeeds in 
dominating Europe, it will have at its disposal the ship-building 
facilities of the continent— which are many times larger than our own. 
Even if we exert ourselves to the uttermost, the chances are that 
Europe can build more ships than we can. 

Now it pleases some people to argue that although our position at 
sea would remain one of permanent inferiority, we shall not be in 
danger for the following reasons: (a) Germany will be so weary of 
war and so exhausted that it will not dream of attacking the United 
States; (b) it will not have enough ships to convey a force sufficiently 
large to attack us; (c) according to Colonel Lindbergh, an attack by 
air is out of the question; (d) in any case, the United States is so large 

The United States on the Verge of World War II 173 

and so rich that in the long run it cannot be defeated. 

The first argument strikes me as complete nonsense. If the Germans 
win this war, after having lost their other war in 1918, they will feel 
that their system of government and economics has been justified by 
events, as indeed it will have, and so far from being war-weary, they 
will look around for something more to conquer. It is inconceivable 
that they should feel satiated. Throughout history, military conquer- 
ors have never been able to stop, and for at least fifty years Germans 
have been telling each other that they are a super-race whose mission 
it is to rule the world. 

It is also dangerous to assume that the Germans could not send 
troops across the Atlantic. We sent 2,000,000 troops to France in 1917- 
18, when the British dominated the sea. If the Germans get control 
of the Atlantic, why can they not reverse the traffic? Colonel Lind- 
bergh may be justified in saying that in 1941 an invasion by air is out 
of the question. But 1946? 1951? One thing is certain: the general 
staff of the army and the general board of the navy think that we are 
in grave danger, and I prefer to trust them. I may also be told that if 
Hitler cannot invade England he cannot invade the United States. 
As a matter of fact, Hitler has not yet attempted to invade England; 
if and when he does, no one knows what the result may be. We 
cannot afford to take any chances. 

We have also to remember that if Britain collapses, we shall have 
to face the prospect of Germany's trying to assert itself in South 
America politically as well as economically. Without going into the 
ramifications of that possibility, I think it safe to assume that the 
establishment of German political control anywhere south of the Rio 
Grande would give Hitler an excellent base for attacking us by air. 

Quite apart from the contempt which a Nazi Germany feels for the 
democratic United States, there are two special reasons why a victor- 
ious Germany will be anxious to have a go at us. Firstly, because the 
assistance which we have already given to Great Britain has greatly 
prolonged the war, and the Germans would be no more than human 
if they wished to punish us for this. Secondly, Germany has never 
forgotten that without American help, Britain and France would 
probably have been defeated in 1917-18. In my visits to Germany be- 
tween the two wars, I was more than once made to realize that Ger- 
many had not forgiven us for our intervention. The late ambassador 
Dodd, in his recently published Diary, reveals that he had similar 

174 The Fashion and Future of History 

experiences. The people of the United States may count upon Ger- 
many's trying to revenge itself in the most uncompromising fashion 
and, if we remember the repeated assurances of Hitler to Poland, 
Czechoslovakia, the Low Countries, and France, we may be sure that 
his constant asseverations that he has no quarrel with the United 
States afford the best possible proof to the contrary. 

The most immediate consequence of a British defeat will be that in 
the Far East, we shall be left to face Japan single-handed. Singapore 
will not be available to our fleet, and the defense of the Philippines 
will become extremely difficult. Given time, we can no doubt construct 
the necessary naval and air bases, but probably the Japanese will not 
leave us time, especially now that they have concluded a five-year 
agreement with Russia which relieves them of worry from that quar- 
ter. And the Japan which we should have to face would be greatly 
strengthened by whatever British and Dutch possessions it chooses to 
pick up. Furthermore, if Britain falls, China will probably fall also, 
for the Burma Road will be cut, and we shall not benefit from what- 
ever resistance China has thus far been able to make against Japan. 
And just as Germany has never forgiven us for our intervention in 
1917, so Japan has not forgotten the Immigration Act of 1924 which 
permanently excludes Japanese from the United States. The proud 
islanders think that they possess a real grievance in that matter. Our 
isolationists and hyper-patriots may honestly believe that we can 
defend ourselves against a German or a Japanese attack; but they 
do not appear to have sensed that probably we shall have to face both 
Germany and Japan at the same time. 

But, I may be told, we can save ourselves by building a navy and 
an air force so powerful that we can withstand simultaneous attacks 
from the east and west. Whether that is technically possible I do not 
know, but I do know that the cost would be terrific, and I very much 
fear that a totalitarian victory will make it impossible. 

Throughout our history foreign trade has been a vital factor in our 
national economy. Freedom to buy and sell anywhere in the world, 
without either restraint or preferential treatment, has been our in- 
sistent claim, and our prosperity has depended in considerable degree 
(though not exclusively) upon the maintenance of a large import 
and export trade, as the years of depression have brought home to us 
only too vividly. Since the advent of the Nazi regime, however, Ger- 
many has pursued the opposite course of rigidly controlling its foreign 

The United States on the Verge of World War II 175 

trade. For freedom of exchange on the basis of cash, it has substituted 
barter and resorted to many devious and dishonest tricks, from which 
we have suffered not a little. If Germany wins the war, there is no 
reason to suppose that it will not continue its crooked methods. Its 
leaders boast that in Europe the non-German peoples will be reduced 
to a kind of serfdom, and there is no reason to doubt this. We, with 
our high standards of living for the working people, shall not be able 
to compete with German products, and we can be very sure that the 
Germans will do their utmost to deprive us of access to raw materials, 
such, for example, as tin in Bolivia and rubber in the Dutch Indies. 
Our free economy will be gone, probably our vast accumulation of 
gold will be rendered useless, and we shall face utter disaster. In 
such circumstances, we shall not be able to build sufficient defenses to 
resist the final German attack. 

In the meantime, while our economic position has been deterior- 
ating, we shall have been tinkering with our political institutions. 
Nothing succeeds like success. In 1918 the victory of the democratic 
states over the autocratic powers was followed by the springing up of 
democratic governments all over Europe. If, however, Germany wins 
this present war, Europe will go Nazi, and it will be difficult for us not 
to do likewise, if for no other reason than that increasing economic 
distress will demand more and more governmental control. This will 
please a few reactionaries, who think that Fascism will enable them to 
deal severely with labor and perhaps also a few labor leaders who ex- 
pect to feather their own nests at the expense of capital. But the ex- 
perience of both Italy and Germany shows us only too clearly what 
Fascism means in every-day life— regimentation of body and soul, low- 
ered standard of living, permanent organization for war. The Ameri- 
can people will not relish all this, but it is likely to be our lot if Ger- 
many wins this war. Personally, I believe that the majority of the 
American people, who detest the Nazi system and all its works, are at 
last beginning to see clearly what lies ahead of us, and that the few 
who assert that Naziism cannot be beaten and that therefore we 
should compromise with it are becoming less numerous each day. 

Politics and economics aside, our non-material losses will be stu- 
pendous if the Axis wins. Will America be strong enough to remain a 
country of refuge for the oppressed of all lands? If we have to become 
Fascist ourselves, we shall not want them! Will not true religion be 
suppressed in Nazi or Bolshevik fashion? The United States would 

176 The Fashion and Future of History 

then be as bound spiritually as it was sick economically. Will not our 
literature and our art succumb as have those of Germany, Italy, and 
Russia, and become dull and lifeless? Will not the efforts we have 
made in China to point a new course to that heroic nation be undone 
by the Japanese? I for one do not believe that we are so craven as to 
submit to such a fate. 

But if we are to avoid this fate, we must act and act quickly. By 
means of the Lease-Lend Bill, the President, Congress, and the coun- 
try have committed themselves to the defeat of Hitler, not because we 
love the British Empire, but in the interests of the United States. We 
plan to spend seven billions of dollars to that end. But of what 
earthly use will planes and tanks and guns be unless they reach Eng- 
land and are put to use? To load these precious weapons on to ships 
only to have the ships sunk by German submarines and planes is 
fantastic and will not long be tolerated. 

The answer? A first answer is, clearly, convoys; that is, the use of 
American naval vessels to protect merchant ships against German sub- 
marines and airplanes. For the moment American opinion seems con- 
fused on this point, as on many others. According to last week's Gal- 
lup poll, only 41% of the people favor using the American navy now 
for convoys, but 71% believe that we should thus use the navy if 
there is danger of Britain being defeated. These contradictory reports 
suggest that we do not know what we want, or perhaps it would be 
more correct to say that we are still trying both to eat our cake and 
have it. By which, I mean that we are, at heart, still hoping that Bri- 
tain will win the war for us, that her people will do the fighting 
while we share the benefit. This is not a very honorable attitude, and 
public opinion is in fact coming to be ashamed of it: witness the Fight 
for Freedom Committee recently formed in protest, with the program 
of fighting our own battles. But I do not wish to dwell on this incon- 
sistency, for the events of the last two week in the Balkans and North 
Africa seem finally to be removing the last blinders from American 
eyes and it is increasingly evident that the decision about convoys 
cannot be long postponed. If we wait until Britain is at its last gasp, 
it will be too late. Now or never! 

The President is reported as saying recently that "convoys mean 
shooting and shooting means war": wherefore he hesitates because, 
while he is believed personally to favor convoys, he fears that the 
public will not support him if he uses his undoubted constitutional 

The United States on the Verge of World War II 177 

authority and orders the navy to convoy merchant ships. Now Mr. 
Roosevelt is universally recognized as the shrewdest judge of political 
forces that this country has produced in a long time, and certainly his 
technique of waiting has thus far been highly successful. He induced 
Congress to modify the Neutrality Act so as to permit the sale of 
munitions; he carried through the exchange of destroyers for naval 
bases; and he secured the enactment of the Lease-Lend Bill. Each of 
these measures aroused much opposition when first proposed, but the 
President, instead of forcing the issue, allowed the slow democratic 
process of debate to function and in each case carried the day. So it 
may be in the matter of convoys. The upsurge of sentiment in favor 
of convoys in the last weeks has been unmistakable; and while I per- 
sonally wish that Mr. Roosevelt would assert his leadership and tell 
the country flatly that convoys are necessary, in which case he will, I 
believe, receive the backing of most citizens, still I had rather wait 
a little longer and let the demand for convoys be so outspoken that 
no possible doubt will remain that the country approves. It is much 
better in the long run for the President to follow public opinion than 
for him to exercise his legal power before the public is convinced that 
such exercise is necessary and thereby expose himself to the charge of 
dictatorship. If this is a correct diagnosis of the situation, then all 
persons who believe in the use of convoys should write the President 
and urge him to go ahead. 

Will convoys lead to formal war? I assume that the United States 
will not declare war on Germany, for that would enable Germany to 
claim the assistance of Japan under the Axis treaty and the Japanese 
government has declared that it would recognize the obligation to 
attack us. Our naval vessels will shoot at German vessels and planes 
and they will shoot back: acts of war will be committed. Will Japan 
then move? I do not know, for however much Mr. Matsuoka 1 may 
talk, Japan clearly does not wish war with the United states, treaty 
promises to the Axis notwithstanding. Here I may remark parentheti- 
cally that Mr. Roosevelt may be playing for time. In a few months our 
newest battleships will be in service and the naval situation will be 
enormously improved to our advantage; if the use of convoys can, 
without disaster, be put off until the North Carolina and the Washing- 
ton are ready, we can certainly act more effectively. This is all specula- 

1 Yosuke Matsuoka, Japanese minister of foreign affairs. 

178 The Fashion and Future of History 

tion, but I mention it to show that there is more than one angle to 
the problem of convoys. 

It seems to me unlikely that Germany will declare war if we use 
convoys. In spite of the fact that the Nazis hold us up to ridicule 
and declare that it is too late for us to save Britain, the German 
people have not forgotten that our intervention in 1917 turned the 
tide against them and their morale would certainly get a terrific 
shock from learning that their Fuhrer had declared war on the United 
States. Still, Hitler has a genius for doing the unexpected, and he 
might surprise us. If he should declare war we shall have to face it and 
we shall face it. The Lease-Lend Bill was passed on the clear under- 
standing that it involved the risk of war, and the people will not 

The president of the University of Chicago argued in a recent 
speech that the United States is not morally or intellectually prepared 
to face the issue of war, and that if we should go to war, we should 
have to become a totalitarian state in order to wage war effectively. 
As for his first point, there is no doubt that the American people have 
been confused by the false teachings of the last twenty years; but inas- 
much as Mr. Willkie apparently agrees with Mr. Roosevelt on the 
tremendous issue before us, namely, that the United States cannot 
afford to let Britain fall, I refuse to believe that the American people 
will not respond if the call comes. 

^s for the second point, Britain has not become a totalitarian state, 
and there is no sign that it intends to do so. Yet it is "producing the 
goods" in the matter of war materials, and the morale of its people is 
the wonder of the world. In our own case, President Wilson was given 
vast powers in 1917-1918, but the controls then set up were promptly 
relaxed after the end of the war. In short, the assumption that a 
democracy, in order to fight totalitarianism, must itself go totalitarian 
is not warranted by either logic or history. 

No one can say today whether we shall go to war, but I for one 
believe that we should and will go to war rather than allow Hitler to 
win. While we are waiting on events, we can not only send material 
aid to Britain, but we can and should exert economic pressure against 
the totalitarian states. In particular, I think that we should stop the 
export of gasoline to Japan and of other commodities to the Soviet 
Union. Experience seems to show that the "tougher" we are towards 
Japan, the less likely we are to have trouble with her; and as for Rus- 

The United States on the Verge of World War II 179 

sia, its recent treaty with Japan affords new proof that we gain noth- 
ing by being nice to the Soviets. The question of sending food to 
France and the other conquered lands is tremendously difficult. My 
own belief is that there is sufficient food on the continent to keep life 
going and that the Germans will dole out just enough to prevent 
starvation; and in spite of Mr. Hoover's arguments, I very much fear 
that the Germans will profit by the sending of American food more 
than will the occupied lands. Incidentally, the governments in exile 
have not, so far as I know, asked for this help, and apparently the 
conquered peoples prefer short rations to letting the Germans get any 
food from the United States. 

Thus far I have discussed, so to speak, the past and the present of 
the war. Now it is time to look towards the future. The view has been 
presented that the vital interests of the United States require a British 
victory and that we should take whatever steps may be necessary in 
order to insure that victory. In that event, we shall, it may be as- 
sumed, participate in the making of peace. What considerations 
should guide us in so complex an undertaking? 

First of all, we must take to heart the lesson of 1918. You will re- 
member that just as the fighting was coming to an end, political par- 
tisanship, which had been fairly quiescent during the war, reasserted 
itself. In the election of November 1918 the Democratic party was 
defeated and the Republicans won control of both houses of Congress. 
Thus President Wilson became, as it were, a minority president, and 
his position at Paris in the negotiations for peace, was greatly weak- 
ened. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that if and when the 
United States takes part in another peace conference, the President 
shall be able to speak for a united nation. This will be possible only 
if the American people have been made familiar with the issues at 
stake and have been able to express their opinions frankly. Until such 
a clarification of ideas has taken place, until the American people 
know what it wants, it would be unwise, in my opinion, for the govern- 
ment of the United States to commit itself to any specific program, 
for otherwise the tragic experience of 1919-20 may be repeated. The 
time has accordingly come for men of good will to take up the prob- 
lems of peace and try to reach such a measure of agreement that our 
government can, at the proper moment, speak with full authority. 

In 1918 two main conceptions had been presented to the American 
people as the bases of peace: the self-determination of peoples, and the 

180 The Fashion and Future of History 

establishment of a League of Nations. The peace treaties of 1919-1920 
followed these precepts. A League of Nations was set up, and the fron- 
tiers of Europe were so drawn as to give every racial or ethnic group 
unity and self-government. At the time the treaties were drafted, there 
was not much comprehension of two problems which in the long run 
undermined the treaties and helped precipitate the present war. Those 
were the question of minorities and the question of tariffs. 

Because racial lines are not clearly marked in eastern and south- 
eastern Europe, minorities were unavoidable, no matter how the fron- 
tiers were drawn, and the peacemakers very properly tried to guaran- 
tee these minorities against oppression by special treaties imposed on 
the new states. Generally speaking, these treaties failed to work and in 
fact caused more harm than good. The problem remains, however, 
and will have to be dealt with at the end of this war. 

Political self-determination logically involved complete economic 
independence, but it appears not to have been foreseen that the desire 
of every state to be economically self-sufficient would lead to much 
duplication of industry and to disastrously high tariff walls. Conse- 
quently the new states never achieved economic stability or real 
prosperity, and the way was opened for Fascist and Nazi intrigues. 

Since the treaties of 1919 failed to bring permanent peace, self- 
determination has been under a cloud. Yet the Czechs, Poles, Roman- 
ians, and other peoples continue to exist, and some way will have to 
be found for them to live in peace with each other and with their 
more powerful neighbors. 

At the moment, the formula which wins most favor is "federation," 
and the exiled governments of Poland and Czechoslovakia have agreed 
to a federation of their states when they are restored. But federation 
may prove as much of a delusion as self-determination unless— and 
this is what I have been leading up to ever since I mentioned self- 
determination— the problem is thoroughly thought out. Is federation 
synonomous with customs union, or does it connote political union as 
well? Is a European federation to include Great Britain or is it to be 
confined to the continent? If the latter, is Russia to be a member? 
Certainly the idea of a European federation is intriguing, but before 
adopting it as a specific war aim, we should try to make a blue-print 
for it. 

The central problem of peace is, of course, Germany. The Germans 
are the most numerous people in western Europe and the most highly 

The United States on the Verge of World War II 181 

organized, but they are also the most dangerous. Twice, in 1914 and 
in 1939, they supported their government in precipitating war and 
have fought these wars with more cruelty and terror than any other 
people in modern history. The fundamental task of the future is to 
prevent Germany from running amuck a third time. 

There seem to be three possible solutions. The first is a negotiated 
peace. This has a few advocates, some of whom believe that Germany 
cannot be beaten and argue that compromise is better than ruin. 
Others contend that the best treaties in the past have been those which 
do not humiliate either side and therefore have some chance of last- 
ing. The prospects of a negotiated peace, however, seem remote unless 
the war develops into a military stalemate. 

A second course is to impose on Germany terms so severe that it 
will be crushed for an indefinite period, terms which will make the 
Treaty of Versailles look like the Sermon on the Mount. By this is 
meant the partition of the country, permanent disarmament, and the 
destruction of German industry on a large scale. This policy of a 
"strong" peace has many supporters, if I may judge from the remarks 
of friends and acquaintances. 

The third possibility is to accomplish the military defeat of Ger- 
many, but to leave it to the German people to deal with their Nazi 
tyrants. Germany would be given reasonable terms, in the hope that, 
having lost two wars, it would settle down to a life of peace which 
would bring prosperity and content. 

Thus we can choose between a peace of compromise, a peace of 
punishment, and a peace of moderation. Which is most in line with 
American opinion? Frankly, I do not know, and I wish that Dr. Gal- 
lup would give us a poll on the matter. But it seems to me very im- 
portant that we should make up our minds and give the President a 

At bottom the war is a struggle between the "Haves" and the "Have 
Nots," a struggle precipitated by the latter and precipitated, we be- 
lieve, quite unnecessarily. Because of this we intend to defeat them. 
3ut those who favor a peace of moderation will contend that when 
we have beaten the Have Nots, we should make concessions which 
will reconcile them to defeat. If that is to be our policy, then we 
should begin to think of what those concessions might be. Loans? 
Lower tariffs? Guaranteed access to raw materials? Revision of im- 
migration quotas? I put the question, but do not answer it. What 

182 The Fashion and Future of History 

again I am concerned with is that when peace negotiations begin, 
American opinion shall not be taken by surprise. 

In the opinion of practically all students of international problems, 
it is hopeless to expect that any peace settlement will be permanent 
unless it is based on some kind of international organization and that 
such an organization can succeed only if the United States is a mem- 
ber of it. Is American opinion ready to accept this premise? To any 
one living in Chicago, this may well seem doubtful; but in other sec- 
tions of the country, sentiment is certainly more favorable. Whatever 
the present temper of the people, the question should be tackled soon. 
At the end of the war, the President must know whether he can de- 
clare that the United States will participate in a world organization 
of some kind or whether he cannot. President Wilson pledged the 
United States to membership in the League of Nations and was sub- 
sequently repudiated. President Roosevelt must not make the same 
mistake. Because we place our faith in the democratic process, this 
issue should be debated now and decided, and not left to the decision 
of chance and circumstance. 

I have done. My proposition has been three-fold: (1) From 1919 to 
1939, the American people were hypnotized by the unrealistic notion 
that they could live alone in the world, that what happened beyond 
their frontiers was of no concern to them; the war has, however, de- 
monstrated the complete folly of this notion. 

(2) The habit of muddled thinking in which we have indulged for 
twenty years made it difficult for us to realize that the war is our war; 
but the Lease-Lend Bill, passed after exhaustive debate, puts us on 
record as determined to support Britain and its allies to the limit, 
even at the risk of war, for we have no alternative if we are to retain 
our independence and our honor. , 

(3) In expectation of victory, we must now think out the main out- 
lines of the peace which will prevent a repetition of the catastrophe, 
and then at the future peace conference give united and unlimited 
support to the President. This is surely democracy at its best, and if 
we really believe in democracy, we can do no other. 

The United States, Germany and Europe 

An address delivered, at the invitation of the Canadian Institute of 
International Affairs, to its branches at Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, 
Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria in March 1949. Although 
I ivas at the time a member of the Historical Division of the Depart- 
ment of State, the address was not an official pronouncement of the 
Department. I wrote it in my private capacity as a historian, not as 
an officer of the Department; it was submitted to the Department, in 
order to make sure that I did not say anything which might embarass 
the Department, and it was approved without change, except for one 
small question of fact on which I was misinformed. 

I concluded on a despairing note, for I did not see how the western 
powers and the Soviet Union could agree on the future of Germany. 
The same note has to be sounded in 1960. The western powers- 
Britain, France and the United States— are committed, in principle, 
to the reunification of Germany, that is, the union of the Federal 
Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic in a 
single German state. As this is not in the interest of the Soviet Union 
—unless the unified state be established as a Communist state, which 
the western powers will not accept— the prospect of German unifica- 
tion is nil. Equally uncertain is the fate of Berlin, but, so far as one 
can see, the Soviets cannot change its status without using force. Will 
they risk an atomic war to accomplish this? I certainly do not know. 

In August 1914 Germany, the most military state of the time, precipi- 
tated a European war for the purposes— so its enemies believed— of 
becoming master of Europe. The democratic states headed by Great 
Britain and France would probably have been defeated had not the 
United States in 1917 intervened on their side. In November 1917 the 
Bolshevist Revolution in Russia introduced Communism as a third 
factor in European affairs. From that time to the present the history 
of Europe is fundamentally that of the conflict between Western 
democracy, German militarism, and Soviet communism. 


184 The Fashion and Future of History 

In the years immediately following the First World War, the de- 
feated Germans and Russians combined to a certain extent against the 
victorious allies. Then for some years the Soviets pretty much with- 
drew from European affairs— only in 1934, that is, after the advent of 
Hitler, to join the League of Nations and draw closer to France, Great 
Britain, and even the United States. But a firm Anglo-French-Soviet 
alliance failed to develop, and in August 1939 the Soviet Union con- 
cluded an agreement with Germany which made it possible for Hitler 
to start his war against Poland. In little less than two years, Hitler at- 
tacked Russia, and the Anglo-Soviet coalition was formed, to which 
the United States adhered after it became involved in the war. This 
mighty coalition succeeded in defeating Germany, and until the end 
of 1947 it maintained some of the outward symbols of unity. However, 
the failure of the Council of Foreign Ministers in December 1947 to 
reach agreement concerning Germany led the Western powers to lay 
increasing emphasis on the building up of a (Western) Germany that 
would be economically sound and democratically oriented, because 
such a Germany would contribute materially to European recovery 
and at the same time offer a formidable obstacle to the threat of Com- 
munism. This policy was adopted in spite of certain misgivings as to 
the possible resurgence of German nationalism and militarism. 

From this very brief historical summary, it is clear that in the course 
of thirty-odd years various combinations have been restored to by the 
three rival forces represented by Western democracy, German militar- 
ism, and Soviet communism. How permanent the 1949 "line-up" may 
be will depend upon circumstances and factors which it will be the 
purpose of this paper to indicate and evaluate. 

At the end of hostilities in May 1945 the present situation would 
have been regarded in the United States, by both government and 
people, as inconceivable. During the war, the White House, the De- 
partment of State, and the public generally hoped that, by manifest- 
ing a generous attitude toward Soviet requests and war aims, the 
United States would be able to convince the Soviet government that 
we cherished no hostile intent toward the Soviet Union and that in 
return the latter would admit the possibility that Communistic and 
non-Communistic regimes could exist side by side in a world longing 
for peace. Although certain actions of the Soviet government in 1944 
and 1945, that is, after ultimate military victory seemed assured, were 
somewhat disturbing, nevertheless the Soviets, at the time the Potsdam 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 185 

Conference opened in July 1945, possessed an enormous reservoir of 
American good will, and even the stiff line they took in the negotia- 
tions, while annoying, did not destroy the confidence of the United 
States that the Soviet Union was anxious to cooperate with its wartime 
allies for bringing about the recovery of Europe and laying the foun- 
dations of a joint and lasting peace. The fact that the Soviet govern- 
ment had made numerous concessions in the United Nations Confer- 
ence at San Francisco in order to facilitate the drafting of the Charter 
of the United Nations was held to be a truer sign of Soviet intent than 
the hard bargaining pursued at Potsdam. 

The Potsdam agreements may be very briefly summarized. 

1. In order to prevent Germany from embarking on a third war, 
the country was to be demilitarized and the population denazified. In 
addition, the educational system was to be reorganized in order to 
"make possible the successful development of democratic ideas," the 
judiciary was to be organized in accordance with the principles of 
justice under law and of equal rights for all citizens. Likewise freedom 
of speech and freedom of the press were proclaimed. All these reforms 
were regarded as essential for the establishment of democratic political 

2. Because the problem of reparation payments under the Treaty of 
Versailles had proved to be probably the greatest obstacle to the 
restoration of normal economic conditions in Europe in the 1920's, 
it was agreed that reparations should be made not from current pro- 
duction but by the removal of capital goods from German assets 
abroad; it was further agreed that the Soviet Union should receive 
25% of the removals from the zones occupied by the Western powers, 
with 15% compensated for by certain products, especially food, from 
the Soviet zone. 

3. Germany was to be treated as a single economic unit, and steps 
were to be taken to ensure the equitable distribution of essential 
commodities between the four zones of occupation. Common policies 
were to be adopted with regard to imports and exports; in particular, 
it was agreed that the first charge on German exports should be to pay 
for the imports necessary to get the German economy into operation. 
Common policies were also to be worked out for currency and bank- 
ing. On the other hand, Germany's economic life was to be decentral- 
ized in order to get rid of the "excessive concentration of economic 
power" represented by cartels, syndicates, trusts, and other monopolis- 

186 The Fashion and Future of History 

tic arrangements. It was also agreed that German economy should be 
reorganized by the development of agriculture and peaceful domestic 

4. On the political side, the goals set were the decentralization of 
the central government and the development of local responsibility. 
But no central government was to be established for the present. 
Instead, central administrative departments were to be established to 
deal with finances, transportation, communications, foreign trade, and 
industry. The supreme authority was exercised, according to the quad- 
ripartite agreement of June 5, 1945, by the Allied Control Council, 
which was established to coordinate policy in the four zones of oc- 
cupation and to decide matters affecting Germany as a whole. 

5. The Allies agreed to the Polish occupation for administrative 
purposes of German territory lying east of the Oder and Neisse rivers. 

This is not the place to recite the dreary history of the meetings of 
the Council of Foreign Ministers in March-April and November- 
December 1947. Suffice it to say that on each of the main issues con- 
cerning Germany, deadlock was reached between the Western powers 
and the Soviet Union. 

1. Since the Soviets professed to regard renewed German aggression 
as possible, the United States in 1946 proposed a treaty of disarma- 
ment and demilitarization between the Four Powers for a period of 
twenty-five years (or even longer) . But although Generalissimo Stalin 
had been originally receptive, the Soviet government rejected the offer 
—yet continued to denounce the Western powers for not suppressing 
the remnants of Naziism with sufficient energy. 

2. In spite of the Potsdam undertaking that the new government of 
Germany, when constituted, should be constructed on the principles 
of decentralization and the recognition of local responsibilities, the 
Soviet government advocated a centralized regime for Germany and 
made its acceptance a condition for the discussion of other issues 
with the Western powers. Furthermore, the Communist-dominated 
Socialist Unity party was the only effective political group in the 
Soviet zone of occupation, the other parties being discriminated 
against in one way or another. The Western powers, on the other 
hand, advocated a federal system for the future Germany, and allowed 
free rein to all political parties subscribing to prescribed democratic 
requirements, the Communists included. 

3. Thanks to Soviet tactics, the economic unity of Germany stip- 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 187 

ulated for in the Potsdam Agreement was never realized. The Soviet 
authorities treated the Soviet zone as their private preserve and ex- 
ploited and bled it in a variety of ways, at the same time refusing to 
provide information about their operations. At every turn the Soviet 
member of the Allied Control Council blocked action desired by the 
other powers. Particularly grievous was the Soviet refusal to let food 
from Eastern Germany flow freely to the Western zones, which did not 
produce enough for their own consumption; with the result that the 
Western powers had to import and pay for food to feed the population 
of their zones. In such circumstances, economic unity was non-existent, 
and economic recovery was seriously retarded, even though the British 
and United States zones were united, economically, in January 1947. 
By way of retaliation for the Soviet tactics, the United States had 
stopped the transfer of capital goods from its zone to the Soviets as 
reparations, but this did not make the latter any more conciliatory. 

4. Matters were made worse by the fact that, not withstanding the 
clear language of the Potsdam Agreement to the contrary, the Soviet 
government insisted that the administrative frontier between Ger- 
many and Poland was permanent and the Polish government was 
accordingly allowed by the Soviets to expel the Germans living east 
of the line. These Germans, as far as possible, made for the Western 
zones, thereby increasing the already surplus population. On the other 
hand, the Soviet declined to accept the incorporation of the Saar in 
the French economic system or to agree to the establishment of com- 
missions to study frontier questions. 

5. Possibly these issues could have been settled if agreement had 
been reached on the question of reparations. Although the Potsdam 
Agreement laid down the principle that reparations were to be paid 
by removals of plant and not from current production, the Soviet 
government in July 1946 demanded payments from current produc- 
tion. Furthermore, it insisted— in defiance of the evidence— that at 
Yalta President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill had agreed 
to the Soviet Union's demand for ten billion dollars of reparation. 
Not only did the Western powers decline to admit the Soviet inter- 
pretation of Yalta; they insisted that Yalta had been replaced by Pots- 
dam, which mentioned no figure. Acceptance of the Soviet demand 
would effectively prevent the recovery of Germany, all the more so 
since the Russians in December 1947 asked for the calculation of re- 
parations at 1938 prices, which would have increased the amount de- 

188 The Fashion and Future of History 

manded from ten to fifteen billion dollars. In reply to the Soviet 
demand, the Western powers refused point-blank to allow reparations 
to be paid from current production, because they themselves would 
have to make up the deficit in the German economy which would 
result from such payments to the Soviet Union. Since the Soviet gov- 
ernment would not negotiate on other matters until its reparation 
demand was accepted, the deadlock was complete. 

Thus at the end of 1947 it seemed clear that the Soviet government, 
so far from desiring German economic recovery, desired the continu- 
ance of German misery, hoping thereby— so the Western powers were 
bound to believe— to promote the growth of Communism and make 
easier the bringing of all Germany under Soviet control. After two 
and a half years of concessions by the Western powers, they could only 
conclude that further negotiations with the Soviets were futile, at least 
until the Soviet position on basic issues was modified. They also 
deeply resented Soviet charges that they were exploiting German 
production to their own advantage or buying their way into German 
industry. Exasperating also was the circumstance that by advocating 
a centralized government for Germany, the Soviets were able to 
pose as the champion of German unity, whereas of course it was the 
Soviet policy of keeping Germany disunited economically which was 
responsible for the de facto partion of the country. But to meet this 
propaganda and to prevent the Soviets from getting control of Ger- 
many, more than indignation was necessary. Positive action was re- 

Meanwhile, the United States had come forward with the Marshall 
Plan for promoting the recovery of Europe as a whole. The Plan 
involved help for Germany to get that country on its feet, and help 
by Germany to make the Plan work, since Germany, for all the dam- 
age suffered in the war, was still the king-pin of European economy. 
In keeping with this analysis, the United States in July 1947 had 
revised the original directive of 1945, which, formulated during the 
war, had aimed at keeping Germany at a subsistence level, by a new 
directive which recognized that Germany could recover its economic 
health only if its industry were allowed to attain a much higher level 
of production. The level of 1936 was accordingly set as a goal. 

These decisions to rebuild the German economy in defiance of 
Soviet opposition, which were dictated partly by the necessity of en- 
couraging German resistance to Communist propaganda, partly by 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 189 

the understandable desire to reduce the burden of the American tax- 
payer, who resented having in large part to foot the bill for feeding 
Germany, were not taken lightly. The United States is aware that 
the German people are not very penitent about the Nazi regime and 
that the democratization of political life is only skin-deep. We have 
certainly not forgiven Germany for starting the Second World War 
and for its atrocious conduct of the war. Those of you who may be 
familiar with my writings will not suspect me of tenderness toward 
the Germans, and I personally should have preferred it if a decision 
to build up Germany could have been avoided; but the situation 
created by Soviet intransigence leaves us no real choice, and for 
reasons to be set forth in a few moments, the decision may work a 
turning point in European history. 

The decision immediately raised two delicate but fundamental 
problems. Any rebuilding of German industry on a large scale, and 
particularly of the Ruhr, the century-old arsenal of German aggres- 
sion, instantly aroused the deep-seated apprehension of practically 
all Frenchmen, who could not forget and could not be expected to 
forget the thre invasions of France in seventy years. Much as France 
needed German coal, it would require a good deal of reassurance 
before it sanctioned a policy which might, some day, make it possible 
for Germany to rearm; in particular, as regards the Ruhr, France 
was prepared to be stubborn. Secondly, the possible revival of Ger- 
man industry, involving an increase of German exports to pay for 
imports of food, aroused some apprehension in Great Britain, which 
was also struggling desperately to increase its own exports. Fortun- 
ately, the United States government was aware of these attitudes in 
both France and Britain. It believed that the fears were exaggerated 
and was confident that Germany could be kept under control; but it 
realized that the issues had to be met and the fears alleviated. 

The task of the United States was made easier by the growth of 
the idea of a Western European Union. In order to implement the 
Marshall Plan, the countries of Western Europe were feeling their 
way to a degree of economic cooperation which had never before 
seemed possible. A further step was taken when in January 1948 the 
British government announced a policy of extending the Franco- 
British Treaty of Dunkirk of March 4, 1947, which provided for 
mutual military defense and economic cooperation, to include first 
the Benelux countries and later the nations of Western Europe. On 

190 The Fashion and Future of History 

March 17, a fifty-year treaty of military and economic alliance was 
signed in Brussels by the British, French, and Benelux foreign min- 
isters. Although the treaty is not directed specifically against the 
Soviet Union, there can be no doubt that it was inspired by fear of 
Communist aggression, and the Soviets, whose propaganda never 
ceases prating about hostile blocs, have only themselves to blame if a 
solid bloc has been formed in Western Europe. Just as Hitler's 
seizure of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 was followed by an Anglo- 
Polish alliance, so the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia in Feb- 
ruary 1948 was followed by the alliance of the Western democracies. 

After economic cooperation and military alliance the next logical 
step is some form of political union, and, no doubt you recall, a 
Conference on Western Union was held at The Hague in the spring 
of 1948. While no positive achievements can be recorded, both 
France and Britain have made definite suggestions which are being 
explored. For centuries men of good will have dreamed of some kind 
of European union, but never before has it appeared to be practical. 
It will certainly not be realized over night, but it is definitely "in the 
air". For this good omen, we can thank the Soviet Union, for it is 
the understanding of the fate that will overtake Western Europe if 
its does not stand united against Soviet aggression which has brought 
Western Union into the realm of practical politics. 

Now we Americans have long reproached Europe for its continuing 
national rivalries, and therefore the present trend towards Western 
Union is welcomed by the people and government of the United 
States. As my personal opinion, I venture the guess that the more 
effective Western Union becomes, the more readily will the Congress 
of the United States appropriate funds for the continuation of ERP 
(European Recovery Program) . Be that as it may, the idea of West- 
ern Union has an important bearing on the United States policy 
towards Germany. 

When I interviewed the late German Emperor, William II, in 
1928, he contended that the Germans were an Eastern people, not a 
Western, his argument being that like Orientals they could not gov- 
ern themselves but required to be governed. Certainly the Germans 
have not displayed great skill in governing themselves, but it is silly 
to deny that for a thousand years, Germany has been part of Western 
Europe, and it is hard to imagine any future for Germany except as a 
member of Western Union. Today, the Germans, apart from the 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 191 

fanatical Communists who constitute only a small portion of the 
people, apparently both loathe and fear the Russians. 

For the United States, this circumstance is of the utmost import- 
ance. General European recovery is largely dependent on German 
recovery, but to make German recovery safe for Britain, France and 
the other countries injured by Nazi aggression, it is necessary to 
bring Germany into the Union of Western Europe. This will not 
come about tomorrow, in fact no one can predict when a German 
government will be established which can be admitted to whatever 
organization may evolve in Western Europe; but in our opinion, it 
is sound policy to work toward that end. Our task, therefore, is to 
create in Germany a sound economy and a political regime which 
will be acceptable in Western Europe and to persuade the Germans 
that their only hope lies in accepting such an orientation of future 
German policy. To accomplish this will not be easy. It will require 
patience, imagination, and will power, but we are in the game to 

It is against this background that I now invite you to consider the 
events of 1948-1949. 

As a result of informal discussions held in London between Feb- 
ruary and June 1948 by representatives of the United States, Britain, 
France and the three Benelux countries, far-reaching measures were 

I. It was agreed that the Benelux countries should be associated 
with the three occupying powers in matters of policy regarding the 
Western zones of Germany— this being in substance a renewed rejec- 
tion of the Soviet contention that the terms of the treaty for Germany 
should be worked out by the Council of Foreign Ministers without 
participation of the smaller powers. 

II. Three related decisions concerned the role of German economy 
in the European economy: 

a. It was agreed that "for the political and economic well-being 
of the countries of Western Europe and of a democratic Germany, 
there must be close association of their economic life", which was 
ensured by the inclusion in the Organization for European Econ- 
omic Cooperation (under the Marshall Plan) of both the Anglo- 
American combined zone and the French zone. 

b. It was agreed to recommend the establishment of and inter- 
national authority for the control of the Ruhr, in which the 

192 The Fashion and Future of History 

Western powers, the Benelux countries, and Germany would 

c. The principle of non-discrimination against foreign interests 

in Germany was reaffirmed. 

As a practical step to end the economic stagnation and promote 
recovery, the Western powers announced and put into immediate 
operation a new currency, the German mark, which was intended to 
get rid of inflation and the black market. 

III. On the political side, it was recognized that it was "necessary 
to give the German people the opportunity to achieve on the basis 
of a free and democratic form of government the eventual re-estab- 
lishment of German unity at present disrupted", and plans were 
announced for the meeting of a Constituent Assembly to lay the 
bases for a federal form of government which would be submitted for 
ratification by the people of the several German states in the three 
Western zones. The government thus established would be provi- 
sional, but would permit the Germans to deal with their own 
affairs. At the same time, an occupation statute would be framed by 
the military governors in consultation with German representatives 
which would delimit the powers reserved to the occupation authori- 

IV. Proposals would be submitted for certain minor territorial 
adjustments of the Western frontiers of Germany. 

V. The Western powers declared that "there could not be any 
general withdrawal of their power from Germany until the peace of 
Europe is secured and without prior consultation". They proposed 
to establish a Military Security Board to ensure the maintenance of 
disarmament and demilitarization in Western Germany, and they 
foreshadowed a continued system of inspection and control for as 
long as necessary after the end of the occupation. 

Great Britain and the United States justified this program by the 
argument that it had been forced upon them by the violations of the 
Potsdam Agreement on the part of the Soviet Union. They and 
France, however, stated that their proposals in no way precluded 
eventual four-power agreement on the problems of Germany and 
should even facilitate agreement. Actually, they had no expectation 
that the Soviet government would modify its attitude of hostility 
and obstruction, and indeed they were prepared to face Soviet counter- 

This brings us to the blockade of Berlin. 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 193 


On the night of January 24, 1948, the night train from Berlin to 
Bielefeld carrying British officials and 120 Germans was detained for 
11 hours in the Soviet zone. This was the first step in a long series 
of measures extending over six months by which the Soviet author i- 
ties shut off access to Berlin by land and water and compelled the 
Western powers to supply their sections of the city by an air lift. 
Inasmuch as this action was taken before the conference of the 
Western powers in London, it was obviously not taken as a rejoinder 
to the decisions announced in London in March, even if the restric- 
tions were intensified after that date. Furthermore, the Soviet authori- 
ties for weeks alleged that their restrictive measures were necessitated 
by "technical difficulties". It was not until July that the Soviet gov- 
ernment formally charged the Western powers with violating the 
Potsdam Agreement and the Four-Power agreements for joint control 
of Germany and tried to justify its conduct as a defense against the 
alleged illegal action of the United States, Britain, and France. On 
March 20, 1948 the Soviet delegation walked out of the meeting of 
the Allied Control Council, and on June 16 they left the Allied 
Kommandatura of Berlin— steps which put an end even to the pre- 
tense of four-power cooperation. 

If the Western powers had been badly fooled in their assumption 
that the Soviet government was ready to carry out the Potsdam 
agreement and promote the recovery of Germany and of Europe, 
the Soviet leaders had also guessed badly. The elections in Germany 
had shown that Communism possessed little appeal for the average 
German; only in the Soviet zone had the Socialist Unity (Commun- 
its) party been able to win, and then only because the Soviet auth- 
thorities had discriminated in its favor; in Berlin they had been 
routed. On the economic side, things were beginning to improve in 
the Western zone, whereas in the Soviet zone, they were beginning 
to deteriorate, thanks to Soviet looting and to the practical cessation 
of trade with the Western zones. So, in spite of Soviet championship 
of German political unity, Soviet prestige was slipping. 

While one is never sure of the motives behind Soviet action, the 
Western powers assumed that the purpose of the blockade was to 
compel them to abandon Berlin and thus leave the Russians in 
complete possession of the German capital. The Soviets would then 
be in a position to set up a puppet government in Berlin and appeal 

194 The Fashion and Future of History 

to all Germans to rally around it. Presumably the Soviets, who 
usually plan their moves carefully, believed that the Western powers 
were so craven that they would submit to such pressure; that is, when 
the blockade became intolerable, they would yield rather than fight. 

To the Western powers the Russian pretention was indeed intol- 
erable, for it was a clear violation of the agreements of 1945 between 
the Four Powers concerning the administration of Berlin. The West- 
ern powers asserted that they were in Berlin by right of defeating 
Germany, and that they had withdrawn their troops from Saxony 
and Thuringia only on condition that they could share in the occu- 
pation of Berlin. To make clear that they intended to stay in Berlin, 
they began to supply the city by air lift— and have continued to do 
so to this day. It is believed that the Soviets had not calculated upon 
the ability of the Western powers to carry out this program— although 
if they had possessed a sound interpretation of American psychology, 
they would have sensed that their action offered a challenge to 
American technical capacity which would be accepted with alacrity. 

I remarked some minutes ago that the Western powers had intro- 
duced a new currency for their zones. Although they took this step 
only after the Soviet had not only refused to sanction a reform for 
the whole of Germany, but also introduced a new currency in their 
own zone and into all Berlin, the Soviet military governor declared 
it a violation of the Potsdam agreement and represented it as justi- 
fying the blockade of Berlin. On June 23 the Western powers an- 
nounced that they would introduce their new currency specially 
stamped "B" in their sector of Berlin. When it became evident that 
the Soviet authorities in Berlin had no intention of raising the 
blockade in spite of the protest of the Western powers, the latter 
decided to approach the Soviet government directly. 

So we come to the negotiations between the Four Powers, begin- 
ning with identical notes from the United States, British and French 
governments to the Soviet government on July 6 and ending with 
their notes of September 27 announcing that they would refer the 
dispute to the United Nations. The British and United States gov- 
ernments have published extensive accounts of these negotiations 
which you may have read or can read, so I will content myself with 
a summary. The initial positions of the two sides were far apart. 
The Western powers insisted that Berlin was not part of the Soviet 
zone, and that they would not negotiate with the Soviet government 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 195 

until the blockade of Berlin was lifted. The Soviets contended that 
Berlin was part of the zone; they would not negotiate solely about 
the situation in Berlin as proposed by the Western powers; they could 
not accept the German B mark in Berlin. The real issue, however, 
according to Generalissimo Stalin, was the plan of the Western 
powers to establish a German government in the Western zone. 

The representatives of the Western powers in Moscow held two 
conferences with Generalissimo Stalin and four meetings with Mr. 
Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister. Although the Soviet govern- 
ment expressed an urgent desire that the Western powers should not 
proceed to the formation of a German government before the Four 
Powers had discussed the whole problem, it did not make this a con- 
dition of negotiations concerning the lifting of the blockade. The 
Western powers, while declining to commit themselves, pointed out 
that no date had been set for the formation of a German govern- 
ment and that it would first be necessary for the Germans to frame 
and adopt a constitution; they also affirmed their desire for a Four- 
Power agreement whereby a government for the whole of Germany 
would be established. With this understood, an agreement was 
reached on August 30 for the following steps to be taken simulta- 

A. The Soviet blockade of Berlin and the restrictions laid down by 
the Western powers on intercourse with the Soviet zone would be 

B. The German B mark would be withdrawn from circulation in 
Berlin and replaced by the Eastern mark of the Soviet zone. The 
Western powers agreed to this on the understanding that the use of 
the Eastern mark in Berlin would be subject to regulation by the 
Four Powers operating through the Berlin Kommandatura, and a 
directive to the four military commanders was formulated enumerat- 
ing certain stipulations concerning the use of the Eastern mark. It 
was certainly the intent of the Western powers that the legitimate 
interests of the Soviets should be protected as well as their own. In 
short, a compromise, seemingly acceptable to both sides— an essential 
of good diplomacy— had apparently been reached. 

But when the four military commanders discussed the technicalities 
of the introduction of the Eastern mark into Berlin, the Soviet com- 
mander, Marshal Sokolovsky, put forward new demands: 

1. While willing in large measure to life the blockade, he pro- 

196 The Fashion and Future of History 

posed to introduce restrictions on air transport— an entirely new idea. 

2. He would not admit that the emission of the Eastern mark 
should be controlled by a Four-Power financial commission. 

3. He insisted that the Soviet military authorities should be ex- 
clusively responsible for approving agreements for trade between 
Berlin and the Western zones of Germany and for issuing import 
and export licenses. 

In the view of the Western powers, these demands "constituted a 
departure from what was agreed in Moscow and struck at the very 
foundation upon which these discussions were taken". But the Soviets 
would not admit this, and after each side had addressed a second 
note to the other, the Western powers referred this dispute with the 
Soviet Union to the Security Council of the United Nations as a 
threat to peace. In their view, the issue was no longer one of tech- 
nical difficulties of comunication or of currency, for Berlin. The 
issue was that the Soviet government had clearly shown by its actions 
that it was attempting by illegal and coercive measures in disregard 
of its obligations to secure political objectives to which it was not 
entitled — that is, the withdrawal of the Western powers from Berlin— 
and which it could not achieve by peaceful means. 

The proposals of the Security Council called for simultaneous lift- 
ing of all restrictions on trade and communication by both sides, 
settling of the currency question by the four military governors, and, 
within ten days, a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers for a 
discussion of "all outstanding questions concerning Germany as a 
whole". They were accepted by the Western powers, but rejected by 
the Soviet Union, whose representative on the Security Council de- 
clared that the blockade would be continued until the Eastern mark 
was established as the sole currency of Berlin on the Soviet terms. 

There the matter rests. The President of the Security Council has 
appointed a committee of technicians to try to work out a solution 
of the Berlin currency question, after consultation with the tech- 
nicians of the Occupying Powers, but that committee has not yet 
produced a report. 

This episode in the long struggle between the Soviets and the 
Western powers is more important than the specific issues, serious 
as they are. London, Paris and Washington had long before reached 
the conclusion that it was futile to negotiate with Moscow; but 
because (1) the Soviet blockade of Berlin and the counteracting air 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 197 

lift had created an obviously dangerous situation, where some inci- 
dent might precipitate a clash of arms and because (2) Communists 
everywhere were charging the Western governments with deliberately 
provoking the Soviet Union, the three Western powers decided to try 
negotiation once more. They thought they had secured Premier 
Stalin's personal and formal acceptance of the proposed compromise 
—only to find that like other Soviet agreements it was worthless. 

Whether this repudiation was a deep-laid Russian scheme from the 
beginning or whether the Generalissimo was overruled by the Polit- 
buro, is immaterial. The agreement saved the Soviets' face on the 
question of the blockade, secured their mark for Berlin, left open 
the question of a German government. Yet is was rejected by the 
Soviet government. Why? The only possible conclusion — what many 
observers have contended for a long time — that the Soviet Union did 
not desire even a short-term understanding with the Western powers. 
Western opinion was profoundly disillusioned — and hardened accord- 
ingly. Personally, I think the Soviet leaders committed a grave error 
of judgment, for they destroyed the fond hopes which the peace- 
loving Western peoples had raised on the basis of Mr. Stalin's seem- 
ing conciliation. Henceforth, the West is likely to be "tougher" than 

It is probably too much to expect that the Soviet leaders will be 
able to form correct opinions about the Western powers, for they 
have little contact with the peoples of the West and apparently dis- 
like what little they do have. Thus they guessed wrong about the 
elections in Germany in 1946, and for several years they have been 
banking on a depression in the United States— which hasn't come yet. 

Apparently the Soviets do not desire and do not expect an accom- 
modation with the West, and on that point, the evidence is, I sub- 
mit, increasingly convincing. First, there is the remarkable article by 
"Historicus" in the January Foreign Affairs which many of you may 
have read. After reading all of the books written by or for Marshal 
Stalin and considering his various speeches, statements, and inter- 
views over the past twenty years, Historicus quotes chapter and verse 
again and again to show that the Soviet leader has always proclaimed 
that a conflict between Soviet communism and Western capitalism is, 
sooner or later, unavoidable. Because the Soviet state, ever since its 
inception, has been weaker than its capitalist or Fascist enemies, it 
has tried by various devices to postpone the show-down. Among 

198 The Fashion and Future of History 

those devices is the issuing of a statement from time to time by Stalin 
himself that Communism and Capitalism can live side by side or 
that the disputes between them can be adjusted by compromise. 
These statements are designed to impress peace-loving and gullible 
people all over the world, and to a certain extent have succeeded in 
doing so. But whenever negotiations are begun for compromise, one 
of two things is apparent: (a) The Soviet idea of a compromise is 
to maintain the Soviet position intact and demand that the other 
party, in the interest of unity, accept it; or (b) if absolutely necessary 
to achieve the appearance of agreement, it makes concessions, but 
repudiates or ignores them afterwards. On this latter point, I should 
like to refer you to the paper presented by the Department of State* 
to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate 
on June 2, 1948, listing 52 violations of agreements by the Soviet Gov- 
ernment. Wherever Soviet policy has operated— Germany, Austria, 
Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Korea, Manchuria— the Soviet Gov- 
ernment has consistently evaded the clear meaning of the engage- 
ments it has made. Not even the Nazis established a more consistent 
record— such tactics make sense, I submit, only on the assumption 
that the Soviet government regards conflict with the Western powers 
as unavoidable and even desirable. 

This is not to say that such conflict is imminent. It is generally 
conceded that the Soviet armies could now overrun Western Europe 
in short order. There is, however, no evidence that they are planning 
to do so at this time. But apart from the superiority of its ground 
forces, the Soviet Union is weaker militarily and economically than 
the United States and is likely to remain so for some indeterminate 
period. Admitting that opinions are divided, I for one do not believe 
that war is around the corner. 

It is possible that agreements may be reached on specific issues 
between the West and the Soviet Union, agreements which the 
Soviets will actually execute. The United States has repeatedly de- 
clared its readiness to negotiate, along with its Allies, on questions 
relating to Germany. Nevertheless, any reconciliation between our 
aims and the efforts of the Soviets to spread communism throughout 
the world appears at the present time to be unlikely. In these cir- 
cumstances, two tasks confront the United States. 

1. To try to remain stronger than the Soviet Union, especially as, 
with the passage of time, the present "spread" of power in our favor 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 199 

may decrease. Even if war does not seem likely now or in the im- 
mediate future, there is always the danger that the Soviets, mis- 
judging badly the situation at a given moment, may commit some 
rash act— like their attempted coup d'etat in Berlin last September, 
only on a much larger scale. We must be so strong that the Soviets will 
hesitate to attack us, directly or indirectly. This will be extremely 
expensive, and we may be sure that the Soviet government will de- 
nounce us for planning a preventive war. As you know, the United 
States is already well launched on its program of rearmament, a 
program, be it remembered, accepted by a Republican Congress from 
a Democratic President and therefore not likely to be abandoned 
now that both executive and legislature are held by the Democratic 
party. As a historian, I have to admit that in the past competition 
in armaments has not succeeded in keeping the peace; at the same 
time, it should be noted that prior to 1914 and again in 1989 the 
superiority in armaments was possessed by a war-minded power, 
namely Germany. Now it is a peace-loving country, the United States, 
which proposes to achieve superiority. Both as an officer of the De- 
partment of State and as an American citizen, I do not believe that 
the United States will provoke war against the Soviet Union. 

2. The second task of the United States is to help organize the 
peace-loving nations to defend themselves. Close military cooperation 
between Canada and the United States, begun during the war and 
continued since the close of hostilities, is the first step. The Treaty of 
Brussels between Britain, France, and the Benelux countries is the 
second. Now the culminating step is in process of accomplishment, 
namely, the conclusion of the North Atlantic Pact between the 
nations of Western Europe, and Canada, and the United States. This 
is so much the most momentous event since the close of hostilities 
that comment seems superfluous. Nevertheless two remarks may be in 

In the first place, it is the Soviet Union which will have brought 
the Pact into being. Fear of a revived Germany would never have 
accomplished it. 

Secondly, as a corollary of the Pact, the United States will provide 
arms for the European members of the alliance. When that has been 
accomplished, the military preponderance of the North Atlantic na- 
tions should be so overwhelming that, whatever may be the desires 
of the Soviet rulers, they will not risk an appeal to the sword. 

200 The Fashion and Future of History 

I know that millions of persons in Canada, the United States and 
elsewhere will deeply deplore the colossal expenditure which this 
military-political program will entail. But what is the alternative? 
If our conflict with the Soviet Union were a mere matter of territory, 
the British Commonwealth and the United States might make an old- 
fashioned deal with the Soviet Union by agreeing to divide the world 
between the three powers. But we do not want territory and the 
Soviets want more than territory, for they demand control of our 
minds as well as of our bodies. In other words, the conflict in which 
we are engaged is a war far more of ideas and ideals than it is a 
struggle for mere material possessions. Unhappily the Bolshevists 
are not content to leave the result to the competition of ideas. They 
were aware that their ideas were not popular in Russia, so they im- 
posed their will on Russia by force and have ever since gloried in 
having done it. So I ask anyone who is skeptical about our arma- 
ments program whether he is willing to take a chance that the Soviets 
will let us alone if we don't rearm and to accept the consequences 
if they don't. 

It may be replied that instead of relying on military force to keep 
out Communism, we should create a society based on justice and 
freedom from want which will be immune to Communist propa- 
ganda. Americans generally subscribe to the doctrine that we must 
continue to seek social justice— but we insist on deciding for ourselves 
just how this is to be done— whereas the Soviets wish to impose their 
own brand and make us like it. 

So, referring back to the question raised at the beginning of my 
remarks as to how long the present "line-up" against the Soviet 
Union might last, I answer it by saying that it will last as long as 
the Soviet challenge continues to threaten our way of life— provided, 
of course, we are determined to maintain and defend our way of 

I had reached this point in the preparation of my paper when 
Generalissimo Stalin answered the questions put to him by the repre- 
sentative of the International News Service. Viewed in terms of the 
blockade of Berlin, which is the incident that is responsible for the 
present high tension, his feeler does not indicate any tendency to be 
conciliatory. At first the Russians explained the blockade by "tech- 
nical difficulties". Later they justified it as a means of protecting 
themselves against the introduction of the German mark into Berlin. 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 201 

Now they make the lifting of the blockade dependent on our giving 
up our plans for the creation of a German government in the West- 
ern zones. In other words, the Soviet terms, in spite of a seeming 
conciliation, are now stiffer than they were six months ago. Since 
we continue to insist that we will not discuss the German problem 
as a whole until the blockade is lifted, 1 there seems to be no escape 
from the circle. 

Meanwhile the success of the air lift, which keeps the Berliners 
encouraged and at the same time disconcerts the Russians and re- 
duces their prestige, leaves the Western powers in an advantageous 
position. They can wait for Marshal Stalin to show his hand— 
which is exactly what President Truman and Secretary Acheson did. 


It is now time to get back to a consideration of the German prob- 

Since the collapse of the negotiations over Berlin the most import- 
ant event has been the meeting, at Bonn, of the minister— presidents 
of 11 German states for the drafting of a provisional constitution for 
Germany. Subject to the requirements laid down in the London 
decisions of June 1948, that the constitution must be democratic 
and federal, provide a guarantee of civil liberties, and be ratified by 
two-thirds of the states, its acceptance by the Western powers seems 
assured. In order to give the new German government as much 
responsibility as possible, an occupation statute is being drafted by 
the Allied governments which will reduce to a minimum— subject 
always to the requirements of military security— the right of the oc- 
cupation authorities to interfere with the action of the new German 
government. In other words, the Western powers propose that the 
new German government shall not be a mere puppet regime, but 
one that will command the respect and loyalty of Germans. Provi- 
sion is also made for the subsequent adherence of other German 
states, i.e. those of the Soviet zone. 

How awkward this prospect is for the Russians may be grasped 
from the Soviet action in forming a People's Council, which included 

1 The blockade was at last lifted on May 12, 1949, as the result of a Four- Power 

202 The Fashion and Future of History 

unofficial representatives from the Western zones and to which a 
full-blown constitution for a united Germany was presented. But if 
the population of the Soviet zone is allowed a free vote, it will most 
probably plump heavily for the regime being organized in the West- 
ern zones rather than for the constitution octroye by the Soviets. No 
wonder that Generalissimo Stalin is trying to make postponement of 
the Western government the price of lifting the blockade! 

The Soviets are also losing out on the question of the Ruhr. In 
the Potsdam negotiations of 1945 they claimed a voice in the man- 
agement of the Ruhr, but since they have blocked the economic uni- 
fication of Germany, they have not been admitted to the recent nego- 
tiations. The Ruhr question presents extraordinary difficulties, but we 
may be certain that those difficulties would be infinitely greater if 
the Russians had been allowed any voice in the matter. 

The question was brought to a head by the announcement on 
November 10 by the British and United States military governors of 
law no. 75 dealing with the international trusteeship of the heavy 
industries of the Ruhr. While it declared certain enterprises to be 
excessive concentrations of economic power or otherwise objection- 
able, it provided that the operation of the coal mines and steel plants 
of the region should be transferred to German hands operating under 
Allied Control boards and that the question of the ultimate owner- 
ship of these industries (that is, whether they should be socialized) 
should be decided by a representative freely-elected government either 
for Germany as a whole or for Western Germany alone. In the Anglo- 
American view, this concession to the Germans was necessary in order 
to obtain greater production and thus insure that Germany played its 
proper role in the recovery of Europe, and they declared that the 
German industrialists who had cooperated with the Nazis would not 
be allowed to recover control of the Ruhr industries. But the French 
were of course greatly upset, and in order to keep the present middle- 
of-the-road group in control— the alternatives being either a DeGaulle 
or a Communist government— concessions had to be made. 

On December 28, 1948, Britain, France, the United States, and the 
Benelux countries announced the signing of an agreement for the 
establishment of an international authority for the Ruhr, the purpose 
of which was declared to be to insure that "the resources of the Ruhr 
shall not in the future be used for the purpose of aggression but shall 
be used in the interests of peace" and to "provide the means by 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 203 

which a peaceful democratic Germany can be brought into the Euro- 
pean community to play its part as a fully responsible and independ- 
ent member". 

The Authority is to make a division of coal, coke, and steel from 
the Ruhr as between German consumption and export, and it can 
require the German authorities to modify or terminate their meas- 
ures. The Authority will consist of a council of representatives of 
the six signatory governments and of Germany, with Britain, France, 
the United States and Germany possessing three votes each, the Bene- 
lux countries one vote each. The German votes will be cast as a 
unit by the joint representatives of the occupation authorities until 
such time as the occupying powers decide that Germany shall cast 
them. However, as a result of the fusion agreement under which the 
United States bears the chief financial responsibility for supporting 
the German economy, the three German votes will be virtually cast 
by the United States military governor. In other words, the United 
States and the United Kingdom will be able to outvote France and 
the Benelux countries. They may well hesitate, however, to impose 
a decision to which France and the Benelux countries should be 
strongly opposed. It is also to be noted that no date has been set for 
the termination of the occupation. The agreement further provides 
that the continuance of direct controls over the Ruhr industries 
after the termination of the occupation shall be assumed by the Ruhr 
Authority, the Military Security Board, or some other body created 
by international agreement. In return for these concessions, France 
agreed to exclude from the Six-Power agreement establishing the 
Ruhr Authority the question of the ultimate ownership of the Ruhr 

While the French have not obtained that separation of the Ruhr 
from Germany which they desired, they seem reasonably well satisfied 
with the compromise and anxious to assure the Germans that they— 
the French— will be reasonable. Naturally, the Germans do not like 
the Agreement because it establishes permanent international control 
of the Ruhr, unless and until revised by the peace settlement, and the 
Russians are even more indignant because they are excluded. 

No one can say how this experiment in international control will 
work, for there are no precedents which might furnish a clue. 

At the moment, in connection with the report of the Humphrey 
Committee of the ECA, a difference of opinion has arisen between 

204 The Fashion and Future of History 

France and Britain on the one hand and the United States on the 
other as to the dismantling and removal of certain Ruhr plants, the 
United States being anxious, in the interest of increased production, 
to retain more than seemed desirable to the British and French, who 
are fearful of the possibility of too great German competition with 
their own industries and are interested in maximum reparations 
deliveries. No doubt some kind of compromise will be worked out. As 
the United States sees it, the plan is a sincere effort to get the Ruhr 
plants into operation as soon as possible and thereby provide Ger- 
man and European recovery; to insure that the Ruhr is not allowed 
to pass under Nazi control; and to take account of the legitimate 
fears of France. Undoubtedly the policy involves certain risks, but a 
successful solution of the highly difficult problem will certainly not 
be obtained by either timidity or inaction. 

Meanwhile the Military Security Board has been set up and public 
announcement of this has been made. 

The United States would also like to see the present moratorium 
on private investment in Germany lifted, with the object of producing 
a speedier recovery of German economy and its integration in the 
European Recovery Program. 

It is clear that only large-scale aid from Britain and the United 
States has prevented German collapse. The United States is contribu- 
ting at the rate of $1,100,000,000 a year. At long last, thanks to the 
currency reform, Germany is showing marked signs of recovery, the 
most important perhaps being that the people are now working. It 
is also evident that while the Germans have no love for the Western 
powers — there is no reason why they should — they have come to love 
the Russians even less, apart, of course, from the Communists and 
Nazis accepted by the Soviets. There is now little chance of a col- 
lapse which will make Communism appeal to the Germans. From 
day to day the Western position becomes stronger. On the other 
hand, the Germans have certainly not abandoned hope of playing 
off the Western powers against the Soviets. 

Sooner or later there are bound to be renewed discussions between 
the Four Powers about Germany, ^he Soviets make no effort to 
conceal their desire for such discussions because the tide is running 
against them and they hesitate to use force to drive the Western 
powers out of Berlin. The latter have repeatedly declared that they 
are ready for discussions— when the Russians lift the blockade of 

The United States, Germany, and Europe 205 

Berlin. Meanwhile, the partition of Germany is a fact, and will 
become even more so if and when a provisional German govern- 
ment is established in the Western zones. 2 

Obviously, until the Council of Foreign Ministers meets and the 
two sides state their respective positions, no positive analysis of the 
situation can be made. However, since the Western powers do not 
intend to give up their plan for a democratic, federalized Germany, 
in which there would be economic unity, and the Soviets, so far as 
is known, have not abandoned their demand for a highly centralized 
Germany, the prospect of agreement seems remote. The Western 
powers have announced that their occupation of Germany will 
continue until peace is secure, whereas the Russians have certainly 
been toying with the idea of proposing the withdrawal of all occupy- 
ing forces. While such a proposal would please the Germans and put 
the Western governments on the spot, they could hardly accept it 
lest (a) the German Communists, with the backing of the police 
force of the Soviet zone or even of Soviet troops in Poland, attempt 
a coup similar to that in Prague and/or (b) the German nationalists 
get out of hand. We cannot forget that Nazi and Communists more 
than once in the past joined forces, so we are not likely to make it 
easy for them to do so again. 

Personally, I do not see any present basis for agreement on Ger- 
many between the West and the Soviets, that is, agreement determin- 
ing the future of Germany to the satisfaction of both sides. On the 
contrary, the present tension is likely to continue, and we must 
simply get used to it. Germany will remain divided, and the Soviets 
may very well set up a Communist government in their zone to 
match the provisional government in the Western zones. 3 What the 
next developments may be is anybody's guess. 

2 This was done in September 1949. 

3 Which they did in October 1949. 










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